Los Angeles Lakers: 5 best players to never win a ring with the team

Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images /
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Los Angeles Lakers
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2. Karl Malone

When Karl Malone is mentioned, we immediately picture him in a Utah Jazz jersey running the pick and roll to perfection with his fellow Hall of Fame teammate John Stockton. However, Karl Malone did play the last season of his career with the purple and gold as a 40-year-old veteran.

Despite Malone’s age, he was very effective on a team that featured a prime Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, and fellow veteran Hall of Famer Gary Payton. The 2004 Lakers finished 56-26 and clinched the second-best record in the Western Conference.

After defeating MVP Kevin Garnett and the Minnesota Timberwolves in six games, the Lakers advanced to the NBA Finals to face the Detroit Pistons.

Malone was excellent throughout the playoffs in matchups against elite power forwards in Garnett and Tim Duncan in the prime of their respective careers. However, the 40-year-old’s incredible physique finally failed him.

With the series tied 1-1, Karl sprained his knee in Game 3 of the NBA finals. He would play injured for the remainder of Game 3 and Game 4, but would ultimately miss the deciding game.

The Detroit Pistons were able to vanquish the mighty Lakers in what many called a five-game sweep. This brutal loss was the nail in the coffin and ultimately led to the breakup of the Kobe-Shaq duo.

Karl Malone ended his Hall of Fame career as the league’s second-leading scorer behind only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. However, he failed to win a ring at any point over the course of his 19-year career.