Stakes Analysis: NBA rings only given to best player on championship team
Stakes Content Team


Winning championships in basketball is such a key component to establishing “greatness.” When we discuss the top 10, Mount Rushmore type of debates, the number of championships a player has won is always brought up.


However, many of the all-time great played with each other, which inflates ring count. So, what if you awarded the championship to ONLY THE BEST PLAYER ON THE WINNING TEAM FOR THAT SEASON? For example, Kobe and Shaq won 3 championships together; however, Shaq was the best player on his team for those championship seasons; therefore, Shaq gets 3 rings and Kobe gets 0. Shaq then won a fourth championship with the Miami Heat, but Dwayne Wade was the best player on that team, so Wade gets the point there.

If you did this analysis for every year since 1980, below are the players who would be credited with 2 or more championships. One standout? TIM DUNCAN. Underappreciated during his team and continues to be underappreciated post his playing career. Duncan is clearly one of the all-time greats.


Totals by player and year

Michael Jordan: 6 (1991, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 1998)
Tim Duncan: 5 (1999, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2014)
Lebron: 4 (2012, 2013, 2016, 2020)
Magic Johnson: 4 (1982, 1985, 1987, 1988)
Larry Bird: 3 (1981, 1984, 1986)
Shaq: 3 (2000, 2001, 2002)
Kobe: 2 (2009, 2010)
Steph Curry: 2 (2015, 2022)
Kevin Durant: 2 (2017, 2018)
Isiah Thomas: 2 (1989, 1990)
Hakeem: 2 (1994, 1995)




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