NBA centers are some of the most underrated and under publicized athletes in the world.
Their tall, lanky, and most of the time, ridiculous looking. But at the same time graceful and a force to be reckoned with. NBA centers are often left in the shadows of great guards like Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and Lebron James.
This slideshow is for the proud few who made a small, but significant impact on the NBA today. These players weren't the best the league has ever seen. Most won't make it to the hall of fame. But they will certainly never be forgotten. A tribute to them.
Leading an All star cast of NBA big men is none other than Vlade Divac. This big man spent 16 seasons in the NBA with three different teams. Mainly switching back between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Sacramento Kings.
Drafted in the first round in 1989 by the Lakers. Divac became known for his outstanding passing skills for a big man. His career numbers are solid. He is one of only three players to put up 13,000 points, 9,000 rebounds, along with 3,000 assist, and 1,500 blocks.
The real reason Divac is a legend and on this list is because of his "flopping" technique. It's safe the say people who want to learn how to flop study film of this guy.
To get an idea of what flopping is, take a look at this video:
For highlights on this NBA great, watch this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_AbpT7VzKZo
Who could forget this lovable big man. Arvydas Sabonis spent his entire NBA career in Portland.
His story is relatively unknown and pretty confusing. Sabonis was drafted in 1985 by the Atlanta Hawks. But was soon kicked out of the league because he lied about his age. One year later, and of age to play in the NBA, the Portland Trailblazers drafted him in 1986. But was once again sidelined due political situations in his home country.
Finally in 1995, Sabonis was again drafted by Portland and he made the most of it. Sabonis will be remembered not for his career points or rebounding ability. He will forever be remembered for his unique style, and I'm not talking about his basketball game. Simply put, he isn't the greatest looking guy.
Here is a highlight real of the gentle giant:
Rik Smits. Not enough can be said about this guy. This guy had one of the best haircuts the NBA has ever seen. Rik was drafted by the Indiana Pacers with the second overall pick in the 1988 NBA draft. Rik spent all 11 of his NBA seasons with the Indiana Pacers.
Smits and Reggie Miller quickly became one of the best center, guard duo's in the early 90's.
His long graceful hair (http://hoopedia.nba.com/images/f/f2/Smits2.jpg), along with Miller's automatic shot made the Pacers a playoff contender and NBA finals threat for a decade.
Rik Smits most famous shot can be seen here:
One of the greatest shotblockers ever to play the game. Dikembe Mutombo.
Mutombo has been in the NBA for 18 years. He currently is playing for the Houston Rockets, although he sees limited action.
Mutombo is second all-time in the NBA for shot blocks. He is also currently the oldest active player in the NBA (43).
Mutombo has made this list for two reasons. He is one of the best defensive players ever to play in the NBA. Secondly, his finger wave.
After almost every blocked shot, Mutombo liked to wave is index finger at the person he blocked. Mutombo said he did this for intimidation and to have some fun on the court.
Mutombo shot block highlights:
Wrapping up the list is "The Admiral."
David Robinson earned this nick name, because before he joined the league, he was in the United States Navy. Robinson spent his 14 year NBA career in San Antonio, winning two NBA championships.
Robinson signed with then, the worst team in the league Spurs, who were 21-61 the year before he got there. His impact on the team was instant. His first year with the team, he lead the Spurs to a 56-26 season. One of the greatest turnarounds in NBA history.
Robison's life long dream was to become an NBA champion. But as his career was slowing down, it appeared his dream would never come a reality. Until the drafting of future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan.
Duncan and Robinson were a force to be reckoned with down low. The two earned the nickname, "The Twin Towers." Duncan was the missing piece in the Spurs franchise, and helped the Spurs, and Robinson become back to back NBA champions.
Highlights of Robinson can be seen here:
There you have it. Others were considered for this list, but I think these group of men were truly some of the most underappreciated basketball players of all time. They may not have been house hold names, but they will never be forgotten.