The Celtics’ 2024 NBA championship just gave James Harden a record no NBA player wants

In the 186th playoff game of his NBA career, Al Horford won his first NBA championship. The Celtics capturing the 2024 title took Horford off an ignominious list, as Boston coming up short this year would have almost certainly (eventually) vaulted him past Karl Malone (193) for most career playoff games without a championship.

After the game, Horford was understandably excited to finally get his first ring, 17 years into his NBA career:

But with Horford winning a championship, James Harden ended up taking a crown no player wants: His 166 career playoff games without a ring is now not just fourth all-time in NBA history, but the most of any active NBA player.

Per StatMuse, the next closest is… his former Rockets teammate Chris Paul, with 149.

With the NBA Finals over, Harden is now eligible — under a new NBA rule going into place this year — to begin talking with the Clippers about a new contract to keep him in Los Angeles in free agency. Given that franchise’s historic playoff woes, it seems unlikely Harden will end his reign atop a leaderboard that no current NBA player wants to sit on, but there is a small silver lining: At least, at age 34, he’s unlikely to go on enough long playoff runs in Los Angeles to pass Malone or John Stockton (182) for a top-two slot on the all-time ranking.

That’s something, right?

While maybe Harden can do some title chasing to end his career to put this record to bed, at least as of right now, the self-described “winner” appears poised to hang onto that bit of infamy for a while.

But hey, at least maybe he appears poised to get a different type of ring soon!

Congrats James!

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