The NBA finals are such a competitive and intense series that it often comes as no surprise when the best teams come out on top. But what about those times when they don’t? When we look back at NBA history. We see some of the most memorable moments and players to ever play in this league. But some managed to lose more than anyone else. This blog post will take a look at some of these NBA legends who lost the most NBA finals games. We will also take a look into which NBA team has lost the most championships overall!
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Most NBA Finals Lost – Players
Jerry West – 8
You might know this Jerry West as the guy on the NBA logo. But he was also an NBA player who played for the Lakers from 1960-1974. West would become most famous as a great NBA Finals loser! In nine trips to the championship round with the Lakers. Jerry West’s teams lost eight times. Including three losses during their Showtime era when they were expected to win each time. Averaging 46.3 points per game throughout his career (an NBA record at the time of writing).
In 1970, Jerry West lost the NBA finals with a torn meniscus. In 1969 and 1974 he was named NBA Finals MVP even though his team ended up losing both times. A year later in 1972, despite leading the Lakers to their first NBA title since 1954 (in Laker franchise history). West still finished third place for regular-season MVP honors!
As you can imagine, this had to be frustrating for someone like him who always gave 110% on the court. But he never let it stop him from playing hard or pursuing greatness as one of basketball’s greatest players ever. Something that is evident when we look at some of his other accomplishments including being inducted into the Basketball Hall Of Fame (of course).
Elgin Baylor – 7
Baylor retired nine games into the 1971-1972 NBA season due to a knee injury. A season in which the Lakers had won the NBA title (beating the Knicks in a seven-game NBA finals series).
Maybe it was fate, but we’ll never know what might have been if Baylor had stayed healthy enough to play another season or two. Even with his successful career and championship ring under his belt, Elgin is still known as an NBA Finals loser! Still one of the top players ever though too – #20 on the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players list back in 1996.
And even more impressive – he averaged 29.6 points per game throughout his entire NBA career. That takes some real talent and skill for any player at that time and especially during those days when there were so few teams and no free agency or other modern-day perks available like we today!
LeBron James – 6
A modern-day NBA great who seems to have it all is LeBron James. He’s won NBA regular season MVP, and NBA Finals MVP awards four times! Despite this success, he was also an NBA final loser just like the rest of these players on our list.
Specifically speaking about his records as an NBA finals loser – LeBron has lost six NBA finals with two teams so far in his career (Cleveland Cavaliers & Miami Heat).
Also, even though he only played for the Cleveland Cavaliers during their first trip to the NBA championship round back in 2007 against San Antonio Spurs where they ended up losing by four games to one – LeBron will never be allowed to forget that moment when TV cameras caught him crying after losing game six at home.
One of his greatest ever stretch of games came during the 2017 NBA Finals – against Golden State Warriors – he became just the third player in NBA history to average a triple-double throughout an entire NBA championship series (won by the Warriors at four games to one). However, one year later LeBron brought home the NBA Championship for Cleveland against the same Warriors!
Most NBA Finals Lost – Teams
Los Angeles Lakers – 14
The team that has made it to the most NBA finals, is also the team that has lost the most NBA finals. The Los Angeles Lakers have made it to the NBA Finals a total of 26 times, winning 12 championships along with losing 14 NBA finals!
As far as the number of Finals losses goes, this team has lost more than any other NBA franchise during their long history.
The star-studded Lakers have had many NBA Finals players in their history, who also lost NBA Finals. The list includes names like Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, Magic Johnson (with Los Angeles Lakers & Detroit Pistons), Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Shaquille O’Neal among others!
New York Knicks – 6
The New York Knicks have made it to the NBA finals eight times – only winning two NBA championships in their history. The Knicks have not made it to the NBA Finals since 1999 when they lost against the San Antonio Spurs.
They’ve had some great players throughout history like Walt Frazier (#23 on NBA’s 50 Greatest Players list) who led them to championships in 1970 and 1973 – but even he was unable to help his team win back-to-back titles (he did win one more NBA championship with another team though).
The New York Knicks are now known as one of the “big market” teams that haven’t been able to come through under pressure lately despite having many talented individuals on their roster over time.
Given all that you’ve learned about some NBA greats and teams/franchises who had a knack for losing championships back then (and probably still do today), what’s your opinion? Do any stand out from the rest? And why is it so?
Thank you for reading our blog post. We hope you enjoyed it! If you want to read more NBA articles, be sure to check our basketball section on Field Insider.
Here are Some of our Favourite Basketball Sneakers
Here we will be giving more of an opinion, rather than facts. Are the sneakers worth the price that they are being sold at? Should you upgrade from your current sneakers, depending on what boots you own? What features stand out on these sneakers? If any. Does it do the job? Speed, control, stability etc. Depending on your needs/preferences. We can also mention its durability, if we have collected enough data on the specific sneakers.
What did we expect vs. what we got. Is it maybe overrated/underrated?
Here’s our pick from the very best of the bunch.
On your way to the pro leagues? Here’s our pick.
Want something to start with? Have a look at our pick.