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If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Sometimes it works (look under Lucci, Susan). Sometimes it doesn't (under Coyote, Wile E.) In sports, there can be only one winner, which means no matter how great you are, there's a distinct possibility of losing. No matter how badly you want that elusive trophy or title, there's never a guarantee it will come to you. CNNSI.com looks at some of the "losers" in sports, legends who couldn't quite clear that one last hurdle.
Pete Sampras
The French Open 

AP
The Stat: 24-12 record in 12 appearances

Best Chance: Reached the semis in 1996, lost to Evgeni Kafelnikov.

The Lowdown: Pistol Pete's rocket serve-and-volley game is tailor made for Flushing Meadows and Melbourne, but falls flat on the clay of Roland Garros. He may have 13 slam titles to his name, but has never been close at the French, going in the third round or earlier in each of the past five years.

Of Similar Note: Bjorn Borg never won the U.S. Open; Neither John McEnroe nor Jimmy Connors ever won the French Open; Ivan Lendl never won Wimbledon.  

 
Tom Watson
PGA Championship 

AP
The Stat: Two top-5 finishes in 28 appearances

Best Chance: Finished 2nd in 1978, when he blew a lead on the back nine and lost on the second playoff hole with John Mahaffey and Jerry Pate at Oakmont.

The Lowdown: Ironically, it took Watson only two tries on the Senior Tour to win the Senior PGA Championship, turning the trick just last weekend in Paramus, N.J. He'll add that to his five British Opens, two Masters and one U.S. Open and call it a career slam ... even if he never did win the Wanamaker Trophy. "I had it in my sights a couple of times ... but I let it get away," Watson said after his senior win. "You don't know how grateful I am that the PGA now has the name 'Watson' on it."

Of Similar Note: Arnold Palmer never won the PGA Championship either, and Sam Snead never won the U.S. Open.  

 
Ray Bourque
The Stanley Cup 

Robert Laberge/Allsport
The Stat: An NHL record 1,816 regular season and playoff games (entering the 2001 finals) with 0 Stanley Cup championships

Best Chance: With Boston, lost to Edmonton in 1988 and 1990 finals

The Lowdown: Bourque's quest for the Cup became such an albatross that some suggested he made a deal with the devil when he agreed to a blasphemous trade out of Boston late in the 1999-2000 season. Now, as it turns out, he'll have to battle the Devils in the 2001 finals for what is most likely his last shot at raising the mug.

Of Similar Note: Goalie John Vanbiesbrouck, serving as Martin Brodeur's backup in the 2001 finals, also is seeking his first Cup after 904 career games in goal.  

 
John Stockton and Karl Malone
NBA Championship 

Otto Greule Jr.
The Stat: 2,786 combined games, 0 NBA titles

Best Chance: Lost 1997 and 1998 Finals in six games to Chicago

The Lowdown: They can pick-and-roll you to tears, but can never seem to turn the corner in the playoffs. In this day and age, a one-team player is rare enough, but two like Stockton and Malone are unheard of.

Of Similar Note: Charles Barkley is another poster boy for a ringless NBA career, but let's face it, anybody who played the bulk of their careers in the Bullish 1990s didn't stand much of a chance at a title.  

 
Barry Bonds
MLB Postseason 

Otto Greule/Allsport
The Stat: 3 MVP awards, 0 World Series at-bats

Best Chance: Had the 1992 Pirates on the verge of the Series before Atlanta's Sid Bream motored home with the winning run in the bottom of the ninth of Game 7.

The Lowdown: He has four 40-homer seasons, nine 100-RBI seasons, eight Gold Gloves and a career batting average of .289. He's going ballistic in 2001, hitting a couple of homers a night and routinely splashing down in McCovey Cove ... yet all we can remember is his .196 average and lone home run in 97 postseason at-bats. His teams are 0-5 in postseason play.

Of Similar Note: Right, we know, Ernie Banks never went the World Series either ... name a living Cub who has.  

 
Clemson Tigers
Dean Smith Center 

Craig Jones/Allsport
The Stat: 0-47

Best Chance: January 26, 1997. Clemson was a school-high No. 2 in the country and No. 19 Carolina was 2-4 in ACC play coming in ... but the Heels still won 61-48 for win No. 43 in the streak. Clemson took more than twice as many shots as North Carolina (66-32) and had 25 offensive rebounds, but shot a season-low 27.3 percent.

The Lowdown: You know the expression about even a blind squirrel occasionally finding an acorn? Well, consider the Clemson Tigers to be blind, deaf and mute pig with no sense of smell and one hoof tied behind its back whenever they enter Chapel Hill. For example, after losing by 27 at UNC last season, Clemson came back to beat the Heels by 10 at home a few weeks later. Go figure.

Of Similar Note: Brown has lost its past 51 games at Princeton, the longest such streak in the nation.  

 
Phil Mickelson
The Majors 

AP
The Stat: 0 wins

Best Chance: 2001 Masters, Mickelson missed several short birdie putts and carded four bogeys on Sunday to finish three strokes behind Tiger Woods.

The Lowdown: Golf loves its "best golfer to never win a major" label. And unfortunately for Lefty, he's been carrying the title ever since Tom Lehman won the British in 1996 and Mark O'Meara won the Masters and the British in 1998. Should they ever play a major in Arizona or Nevada, Mickelson would surely snap the schneid ... he's unbeatable in the desert.

Of Similar Note: David Duval and Colin Montgomerie are in the race with Mickelson to shed "the label."  

 
John Chaney
The Elite Eight 

Doug Pensinger/Allsport
The Stat: 0-5

Best Chance: With the exception of a three-point loss to UNC in 1991, it darn well could have been this past season. With 6:28 left against defending champion Michigan State, Temple still was within three. But consecutive 3-point attempts from Alex Wesby and David Hawkins rimmed out and MSU pulled away 69-62.

The Lowdown: Chaney has been coach for 29 years, and has made the NCAA tournament in 17 of his 19 at Temple. After the loss to MSU in March, Rocky Mountain News columnist Bernie Lincicome summed it up thusly: " Of course this would happen to Chaney. He's not going to get a break. He depends on not getting a break. He is never going to get to play Cinderella and he'll never be Cinderella. Chaney has what is known as buzzard's luck. Can't kill anything, can't find anything dead."

Of Similar Note: Jim Boeheim has been to 21 NCAA tournaments in his 25 seasons as the head coach at Syracuse. And still, despite being one of the most consistent winners in the college hoops, and despite two title-game appearances, he still seeks that elusive national championship.  

 
Jim Kelly
The Super Bowl 

Mike Powell/Allsport
The Stat: 0-4

Best Chance: Super Bowl XXV in 1991, when Scott Norwood's 47-yard field goal attempt went w--- r---- (in deference to Bills fans) to preserve the Giants' 20-19 victory.

The Lowdown: Jim Kelly entered the NFL in 1986 as one of the original Gunslingers -- a Houston Gunsligner of the defunct USFL. During his illustrious 11-year career with the Buffalo Bills, Kelly passed for 35,467 yards and 237 touchdowns. He led the Bills to four Super Bowls, etching his name in infamy as the only QB to lose four consecutive NFL title games.

Of Similar Note: With all the otherworldy QBs in the history of the NFL, there just aren't enough Super Bowls to go around, especially with guys like Bradshaw, Montana and Aikman winning more than their share. But certainly we felt like Dan Marino and Fran Tarkenton should've won one somewhere down the road.  

 
N.Y. Liberty
WNBA Finals 

Ronald Martinez/Allsport
The Stat: 0-3

Best Chance: The inaugural 1997 championship ... because it was a one-game affair, and nobody was going to beat Houston in a series.

The Lowdown: In college hoops you have your UConn-Tennessee thing. In the pro ranks, it's New York and Houston ... except usually a rivalry consists of each team handing it to each other. So far, Houston has been untouchable, beating the Liberty three times while winning all four of the WNBA championships.

Of Similar Note: Heck, even Wilt got the best of Russell once.  

 
Michael Andretti
Indy 500 

Robert Laberge/Allsport
The Stat: 0 wins in 13 starts

Best Chance: 1991, Andretti was leading even after having to replace a flat tire late in the race. But Rick Mears passed him on lap 188 and won by a half-second.

The Lowdown: Andretti has been a dominant CART driver at every stop except Indy. He has won 40 CART races with one season title and five seconds. He finished fifth in his Indy debut in 1984, then led for 45 laps before fading to sixth in '86. In '89 he was leading when engine failure knocked him out with 37 laps left. He also failed to win after leading after 160 laps of the '92 race (fuel pressure) and in '95 when he led after 77 laps (accident).

Of Similar Note: Mario Andretti won the thing only once in 29 starts.  

 
Gene Mauch
The World Series 

Topps
The Stat: 3,954 games managed in the big leagues, 0 in the World Series

Best Chance: Mauch's Angels were one strike away from the AL pennant in 1986 when Dave Henderson took Donnie Moore deep to help the Red Sox win Game 5 and start Boston's rally from a 3-1 series deficit.

The Lowdown: Over 26 seasons, Gene Mauch was the prototype of the fiery manager. His tirades were legendary, including one fit during which he flung the postgame spare ribs around the clubhouse at his players. Yet, he was never much more than a .500 skipper, with his winning percentages only once going above .568 and only three times below .432. He never saw the postseason until 1982, when the Angels lost to Milwaukee in the ALCS. And his second and final appearance was the infamous collapse in 1986.

Of Similar Note: Joe Torre played and managed a record number of games before he reached the World Series ... of course, he's made up for lost time. If you're talking the player equivalent, it has to be Don Mattingly, who didn't play a postseason game until his 15th and final season when the Yanks were ousted by the Mariners in the ALDS.  

 
Bud Grant
The Super Bowl 
The Stat: 0-4

Best Chance: Super Bowl IX in 1975. The Vikes blocked a punt for a TD in the fourth quarter to pull within three points, but Pittsburgh responded with a 66-yard scoring drive and a 16-6 victory.

The Lowdown: Grant developed one of the game's legendary defenses in the 'Purple People Eaters' of 1969. Unfortunately, the offense was lagging behind and Minnesota was routed 23-7 by Len Dawson and the Chiefs in Super Bowl IV. Having brought Fran Tarkenton back from the Giants in 1972, they went to the title game three times between 1974 and 1977 -- losing to Miami, Pittsburgh and Oakland.

Of Similar Note: Dan Reeves also went 0-4 in the Big Game, thrice with Denver and once with the Falcons ... but c'mon, Atlanta should never have been there in the first place, a development so shocking the coach himself had a heart attack.  

 
Nancy Lopez
U.S. Women's Open 

Todd Warshaw/Allsport
The Stat: 0 wins in 23 appearances

Best Chance: 1997, when she missed a 10-foot birdie putt on the final hole that would have forced a playoff with Allison Nicholas. She also finished 2nd in '75 and '89.

The Lowdown: It's hard to believe, but the USGA kept Nancy Lopez out of the 2001 U.S. Open because she had run out of exemptions. Lopez and her 48 career wins, was forced to try to qualify ... along with a record 979 others for the final 89 spots. That's a rough way to treat a Hall of Famer who virtually put the tour on the map. She had missed only four Opens in her career, those due to having children. "It does hurt," said a tearful Lopez. "I really wanted to be there. I guess I'll have to find something else to do that week."

Of Similar Note: Greg Norman's exploits at the Masters could fill volumes.  

 


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