Sports is the ultimate zero-sum game with championships being the crowning achievement to any superstar athlete’s career. The greatest players have often reached that status through their multiple championships.
Legendary players tend to play for teams that are favorites in sports betting. You will find these teams atop sports betting sites like Bovada. But just like sports betting, not all favorites win.
Not every player, no matter how great, can win a title.
Here are ten of the greatest players who have never tasted victory in the biggest games of their respective sports.
Dan Marino (NFL)
It speaks volumes on how iconic Marino was that he became one of the NFL’s most popular figures despite never winning a ring. He appeared in one Super Bowl and lost to the 49ers dynasty.
Marino set numerous quarterback records in his day including throwing 48 touchdowns in a season. His greatness was only dampened by the porous Dolphins teams he played for.
Ty Cobb (MLB)
“The Georgia Peach” spent 22 seasons with the Detroit Tigers and through his prodigious hitting skills led them to three straight World Series. They lost all three.
Despite not winning any titles, Cobb was still regarded as one of the best in his era and received the most votes of any player on the inaugural Baseball Hall of Fame ballot.
Barry Sanders (NFL)
Sanders is still widely considered the greatest running back to grace the NFL. He became just the third player to rush for over 2,000 yards and led the league in rushing four times.
Unfortunately, Sanders also played for the NFL’s worst franchise, the Lions. He never came close to reaching a Super Bowl and retired at the peak of his career.
Karl Malone (NBA)
When NBA fans think of the greatest to never win a title, Karl Malone is the first player they think of. Known as “The Mailman”, the two-time MVP delivered everything to Utah except an NBA title.
In 18 productive seasons, Malone finished with the second-most points in the NBA. He joined the Lakers in his final season for one last shot at a title to no success.
Bruce Smith (NFL)
One of the faces in the NFL’s Mt. Rushmore of all-time great defenders, Smith holds the NFL record for sacks with 200 and was a nightmare for quarterbacks in a career that spanned three decades.
Unfortunately, Smith’s defensive prowess couldn’t push the Bills to win even just one Super Bowl as they infamously lost four straight.
Brad Park (NHL)
Widely regarded as one of the greatest defensemen, Park was overshadowed for most of his career by Bobby Orr and Dennis Potvin finishing as a runner-up to winning the Norris trophy eight times.
Though he never missed the playoffs, Park’s teams would lose in the Stanley Cup Finals three times despite his point-per-game efforts.
Allen Iverson (NBA)
Throughout his 14-season career, Iverson was a controversial but spectacular star in the league. At 6’0”, he became a dominant scorer and led the league in scoring three times.
He won the MVP in 2001 and carried the Sixers to the NBA Finals where they lost to the Lakers dynasty in five games. This would be the closest Iverson got to an NBA title.
Barry Bonds (MLB)
Bonds’s prolific career will always be tainted by his steroid saga, but you can’t discount all the records he set including 12 Silver Slugger awards and 762 career home runs.
The left fielder played for the Pittsburgh Pirates and San Francisco Giants but made only one World Series appearance in a losing effort.
Marcel Dionne (NHL)
Dionne has the dubious distinction of having the most points without a Stanley Cup ring. It was hardly the “Little Beaver’s” fault as he played for the Los Angeles Kings who couldn’t build a decent team around him.
The Kings missed the playoffs half the time he was there and never even made the Stanley Cup Finals.
Ted Williams (MLB)
Known as one of the greatest hitters in baseball history, “Teddy Ballgame” Williams is arguably the greatest player to never win the World Series thanks partly to serving during World War II and Korean War.
He was a 19-time All-Star, an AL MVP, and finished his career with a .334 batting average being the last player to bat .400 over a season.