Alex Ovechkin first broke into the NHL with the Washington Capitals in the 2005-06 season. In what was his 13th season, the left wing not only was able to reach his first Stanley Cup Finals in 2018, but he along with his Washington teammates were able to win it.

Ovechkin’s career can be rivaled by few, if any of his contemporaries in this era. He has amassed 607 career goals and 515 assists in the regular season. He’s won the Maurice Richard Trophy seven times as the league’s top goal scorer. He has also won three Hart Trophies as the league’s MVP.

He is not the only one who stayed with his original team for a long time before finally winning it all. Here are some other legendary players from other American professional sports who stuck with the team they broke in with for at least a decade before accomplishing the feat of a championship.


George Brett, Kansas City Royals

Brett first appeared in a game for Kansas City in 1973, and 12 years later was named World Series MVP as the Royals defeated the St. Louis Cardinals to secure his first championship. The long-time third basemen was named an All-Star every year from 1975-85 before winning a title, was the American League MVP in 1980, and won two American League batting crowns.

Al Kaline, Detroit Tigers

Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1980, Kaline spent every one of his 22 years in the majors with the Tigers.

He finally was about to taste victory in the World Series in 1968, 15 years after his debut. Before accomplishing a championship with his team, he already had been an All-Star in 13 seasons, won 10 Gold Gloves, and has put up regular season numbers of 2,322 hits, 314 home runs, and 1,247 RBIs.

Warren Spahn, Boston/Milwaukee Braves

Spahn started his career with the Braves in 1942, then left for the next three years for the military.

He returned once again in 1946, and was able to get his first World Series win in 1957 over the New York Yankees. That same year, he won the major’s Cy Young Award. He had compiled 224 wins with an excellent 2.94 ERA before experiencing his first championship.


Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks

It took him 13 seasons, but Dirk Nowitzki finally received his first championship victory in 2011 as the Mavericks defeated the Miami Heat.

The 2006-07 MVP also helped guide Dallas to the finals in 2006, but after going up 2-0, they lost four straight to Miami. He had already scored 22,792 regular season points and been named an All-Star 10 times before winning a ring.

Hakeem Olajuwon, Houston Rockets

Olajuwon won his first championship in 1994 (won again in 1995) in his 10th season with the team who drafted him first overall in 1984, the Rockets. “The Dream” had career regular season averages of 23.7 points, 12.5 rebounds, 3.6 blocks, and 1.9 steals at the time of his first championship. That same season he finally won, he was named MVP and won his second Defensive Player of the Year.

Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics

With the help of two new Hall of Fame players on the team (Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen) as well as a precocious young point guard in Rajon Rondo, Pierce won his first championship in 2009 in what was his 10th season with Boston.

He already had plenty of accolades when it was accomplished: seven-time All-Star, four-time All-NBA, and 18,603 career regular season points.

David Robinson, San Antonio Spurs

A first-ballot Hall of Famer in 2009, “The Admiral” won his first ring in his 10th year with the Spurs during the 1998-99 season. With a young Tim Duncan at his side, they took care of the New York Knicks in five games. Robinson won Rookie of the Year (1989-90), Defensive Player of the Year (1991-92), and MVP (1994-95) all before winning his first championship.


John Elway, Denver Broncos

Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2004, Elway’s career ended with back-to-back Super Bowl wins as a member of the Broncos. It was his 15th season with the team when he was finally able to win one.

He made it to the Super Bowl three times much earlier in his career, but they all resulted in losses. He had been named to eight Pro Bowls, won MVP in 1987, and thrown for 48,669 yards and 278 touchdowns by the time he finally reached the pinnacle of the sport.

Walter Payton, Chicago Bears

“Sweetness” had already run for 14,860 yards and 98 touchdowns through his first 11 years before his Bears won the Super Bowl in the 1985 season, giving him his first championship ring. From his second to 11th season, he nearly averaged 100 rushing yards per game (95.2). He was the NFL’s MVP in 1977 and had been a First-Team All-Pro five times before winning that elusive title.