This one is going to be tough for the “rings equal greatness” crowd to read. There’s an NBA player from the 1950s who averaged just 5.6 points per game and won more titles than LeBron James has. His name is not well known among NBA fans. Most probably have never even heard of him, but he’ll forever be in the record books as one of the few players with more than three NBA championships. His name? Pep Saul. Saul actually won four NBA titles in his career, and he only played six seasons!
Pep Saul’s NBA career
Pep Saul had a short NBA career, but boy did he make the most of it. He played just six seasons in the league for four different teams, but he won the NBA title in four of those six years.
Saul started his career with the Rochester Royals in 1949. He averaged 3.7 points on 40.4 percent shooting in his rookie season, and the Royals went 51-17 in the regular season. Rochester fell short in the Central Division Semifinals in 1949-50, but they went on to win the NBA title the next season.
Saul was dead last on the team in scoring during the 1950-51 Finals against the New York Knicks. He scored a measly 0.8 points per game during the seven-game series.
After two seasons in Rochester, Saul moved on to the Baltimore Bullets and the Minneapolis Lakers later that season. It was a good thing he moved to Minneapolis, too, as the Lakers went on to win the 1951-52 Finals. This time, Saul was third on the team with 13.0 points per game in the series.
The Lakers went on to win the next two NBA Finals. Saul had won four consecutive NBA titles, a rare feat in basketball history.
Saul finished his career with the Milwaukee Hawks, who didn’t even make the playoffs in his final NBA season.
LeBron James has won 3 NBA titles in 9 appearances
LeBron James has been to the NBA Finals an incredible nine times. Pep Saul played in the NBA for just six seasons. Somehow, someway, Saul has four championship rings and James has just three.
James’ 3-6 record in the NBA Finals is the lone stain on his outstanding career, but there are a few ways to look at that losing mark.
One one hand, a 33 percent Finals record isn’t very impressive for one of the greatest players of all time. On the other, nine Finals appearances is a historic feat, especially considering some of the talentless rosters James brought to the promised land.
Pep Saul has more rings than LeBron James… for now
Little-known Pep Saul may have more NBA titles than LeBron James, but James is far from finished in his quest to catch Michael Jordan’s six rings.
At 35 years old, James is still playing with the speed and power as 10 years ago. He’s an MVP candidate again in his 17th NBA season, leading the Lakers to the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference.
With a championship-caliber roster again, it would be shocking if we didn’t see James back in the NBA Finals as soon as this season. Saul might have him beat in rings right now, but James could change that ina. few short months.
All stats courtesy of Basketball Reference