'You can't teach height' they say, and no team has ever won an NBA title without a great big man; oh wait..except all six Jordan won, and a 1975 victory for Rick Barry and the Warriors. This list shows how every single title winning team relied on a great big man to take them to the promised land. How did Jordan do it with no center? he's the greatest player ever, of course, and after this list, there's no debate about it.
Whatever team wins the title this year will have a man in the middle to thank; either Garnett or Gasol.
It all started in 1947 when 'Jumpin' Joe Fulks, a center/forward led the Philadelphia Warriors past the Chicago Stags 4-1 to win the first ever title. Fulks was the talk of the league that year, a year when a 6'5" player was big, and as Fulks showed, used at center. In the playoffs he put up 22.2 points per game, leading the title team.
In 1948 The Baltimore Bullets won the title, beating Philly with a big man of their own. The playoff points and defense leader was 6'8" c/f Connie Simmons. He put up 17.1 points per game. A trend of a dominant big man was beginning, since the beginning.
In 1949 one of the greatest center ever, 6'10" George Mikan, began his dominance over the league. The Washington Capitols were his first victim as Mikan scored 30.3 pts per game in the playoffs as he led the (Minneapolis) Lakers to their first ever title (4-2).
In 1950 Mikan put up 31.3 pts per game in the playoffs to lead Minneapolis to a repeat by beating the Syracuse Nationals 4-2.
In 1951 Arnie Risen was the most dominant big man come crunch time as the 6'9" c/f put up 19.5 points and 14 rebounds per in the playoffs. The Rochester Royals beat the N.Y. Knicks 4-3 to win the hard-fought series.
In 1952, 1953 and 1954 Mikan led the Lakers to three straight titles, and was as dominant as any big man has ever been in the playoffs, In 1952 he averaged 23.6 pts and 15.9 rebs with 2.8 assists per to lead Minn. over N.Y. 4-3. In 1953 he put up 19.8 pts and 15.4 rebs in the playoffs as the Lakers beat N.Y. again 4-1. In 1954 the Lakers beat the Syracuse 4-3 as Mikan put up playoff numbers of 19.4 pts and 13. 4 rebs.
In 1955 the Nationals were back with their own dominant big man. One of the greatest players ever Dolph Schayes was a big 6'7" pf/c (back then players were smaller) who led his team over the Ft. Wayne Pistons 4-3. he put up 19 pts 12.8 rebs and 3.6 assists in the playoffs.
In 1956 Ft. Wayne lost again to the Paul Arizin led Philadelphia Warriors. Arizin is one of the greatest shooters ever but his big man Neil Johsnton (6'8" c) made it all possible with 20.3 points, 14.3 rebs and 5.1 assist per game in the playoffs. Can you say MVP?
In 1957 is when it all started. The Bill Russell (6'9" c) led Celtics won it all and started an era so far unduplicated. Russell put up 13.9 pts and an astonishing 24.4 rebounds per to help Boston win it all vs. St. Louis 4-3.
In 1958 the Celtics and Russell lost in the Finals! The St. Louis Hawks beat the Celtics and were led by Cliff Hagan and superstar Bob Pettit (6'9" pf/c) who was amazing with 24.2 pts and 16.4 rebs in the playoffs. Russell wasn't perfect in the Finals.
Erasing last years loss from memory the Celtics won it all again in 1959 sweeping the Lakers 4-0. Russell averaged 15.5 pts on 40.9% fg shooting and he grabbed an outlandish 27.7 rebs per game in the playoffs. Back then the entire shooting percentage for both teams combined was under 39% in the Finals and regular season, so many more rebounds than now were available.
In 1960 the Celtics did it again with Russell averaging 18.5 pts and 25.8 rebounds. they beat St. Louis 4-3.
In 1961 the Celtics threepeated and beat St. Louis 4-3. In the playoffs Russell averaged 19.9 pts and 29.9 rebounds per game.
In 1962 the Celtics beat the Lakers 4-3. Russell put up 22.4 points, 26.4 rebs and 5 assists per game in the playoffs.
In 1963 the Celtics took out the Lakers 4-2. Russell put up 20.3 pts, 25.1 rebs and 5.1 assists in the playoffs.
In 1964 the Celtics once again won the title by beating the San Francisco Warriors and Wilt Chamberlain 4-1. Russell scored 13.1 points per game and grabbed 27.2 resb per and 4.4 assists.
In 1965 the Celtics dominated again and defensive wizard Russel blocked so many shots it was amazing, but the NBA didn't keep the stat back then. They beat L.A. 4-1 and Russell averaged 16.5 pts and 25.2 rebounds and 6.3 assists in the playoffs!
In 1966 the Celtics won their eighth title in a row, once again beating L.A. 4-3. Russell averaged 19.1 pts, 25.2 rebs and 5 asts in the playoffs.
In 1967, 7'1" Wilt Chamberlain did not lead the league in scoring for the first time,and he won his first title. He beat his old team San Francisco Warriors 4-2 and had the most amazing playoff showing ever, with 21.7 pts, 29.1 rebounds and 9 assists per game in the playoffs.
In 1968 Boston took the title back as they beat L.A. 4-2. Russell averaged 14.4 points, 22.8 rebs and 4.8 assists in the playoffs.
In 1969 Boston beat L.A. 4-3 as Russell proved in his last season, that in order for a team to win a championship they need an amazing on offense or defense , or at least way above average center to win it all. Russell put up 10.8 pts and 20.5 rebounds per game.
In 1970 the N.Y. Knicks won the title by beating L.A. 4-3. The main man was Willis Reed who averaged 23.7 pts, 13.8 rebs and 2.8 assists in the playoffs.
One of the greatest centers ever was needed to help the Big-O win the title in 1971 for the Milwaukee Bucks. His name is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Jabbar led the league in scoring in the regular season and won a title becoming the only player ever to do that, well except for Jordan who did that six times! Jabbar averaged 26.6 points and 17 rebounds in the playoffs shooting 51.5% from the field. they beat Baltimore 4-0.
The Lakers finally won it after so many finals losses. Goodrich and West leaned on big man Wilt Chamberlain to win the title over N.Y. 4-1. Chamberlain, one of the greatest players ever, scored 14.7 points, grabbed 21 rebs and dished for 3.3 assists in the playoffs.
The Knicks came back in the 1973 Finals and beat out L.A. 4-3. Willis Reed (6'11") was the heart and soul of the N.Y. team and one of the greatest centers ever. In the playoffs, Reed was injured but put up 12.5 pts and 7.6 rebs anyway and the won the title too.
In 1974 the Celtics were back with their leader Havlicek the remaining player from the Celtics dynasty. But their new big man Dave Cowens (6'9" center) turned out to be one of the greatest big men ever and he responded in the playoffs. He averaged 20.5 pts, 13.3 rebs and 3.7 assists.
In 1975 for the first time ever and the only time aside from Jordan's six titles, the winning team in the Finals did not have a dominant center. But their center Clifford Ray at least led the team in rebounds with 9.8 per game in the playoffs. He had the greatest pure scorer ever up that point Rick Barry to make up for it. Barry went for 28.2 points, 5.5 rebs and 6.1 assists in the playoffs. To top it off, they swept Washington 4-0.
In 1976 Cowens and Havlicek were back and they beat the Suns in the finals 4-2. Cowens scored 21 pts, grabbed 16.4 rebs and dished out 4.6 assists per in the playoffs. After only one season, the centers reign again.
In 1977 Bill Walton (6'11" c) and Maurice Lucas (6'9" pf) teamed up to beat Philadelphia and Dr. J in the Finals. Walton put up 18.8 pts, 15.2 rebs and 5.5 ast shooting 50% from the field. Lucas put up 21.2 pts and 9.9 boards to close out the series 4-2.
In 1978 the Bullets rode their all-star big man 6'9" Elvin Hayes all the way to the title. They beat Seattle 4-3 as Hayes put up 21.8 pts and 13.3 rebs per game.
In 1979 the Sonics got revenge and beat the Bullets 4-1. Jack Sikma was the big man in charge at 6'11". He put up 14.9 points and 11.7 rebs and controlled the lane in the playoffs.
In 1980 Magic (6'9") was a rookie and he played the last game at center to win the title, but Jabbar had got them there. Jabbar put up 31.9 points, 12.1 rebs and 3.1 assists in the playoffs.
In 1981 the Celtics had Robert Parish (7') and McHale (6'11") and Bird (6'9") to win it all against Houston 4-2. Parish averaged 15 points and 8.6 boards in the playoffs.
In 1982 The Lakers were back and so was their dominant big man Jabbar. He put up 20.4 pts, 8.5 rebs and 3.6 assists in the playoffs.
In 1983 the 76ers picked up Moses Malone 6'10" and then dominated the league with him even overshadowing Dr. J, especially in the playoffs where he put up 26 points 15.8 rebounds on 53.6% shooting. They swept the Lakers 4-0.
In 1984 the Celtics did it again with Parish, McHale and Bird. Parish put up 14.9 pts and 10.8 boards in the playoffs and won against the Lakers in a 4-3 Finals win.
In 1985 Jabbar was back and the Lakers beat Boston 4-2. Jabbar averaged 21.9 pts and 8.1 rebs and 4 assists in the playoffs.
In 1986 the Celtics beat Houston 4-2. Parish scored 15 and grabbed 8.8 per game and McHale scored 24.9 and grabbed 8.6 boards in the playoffs.
In 1987 The Lakers took out Boston 4-2. Jabbar was the man in the middle again with 19.2 points, 6 rebs and 2 blocks per game in the playoffs. The Lakers did it again in 1988 beating Detoit 4-3. Jabbar averaged 14.4 pts and 5.5 boards.
In 1989 and 1990 the Bad Boys of Detroit won two straight vs. L.A. (4-0) and the Portland (4-1). Laimbeer was everpresent in the paint as a major enforcer and also could shoot. He scored 10.1 and grabbed 8.2 in 1989 and in 1990 he put up a double double with 11.1 and 10.6.
In 1991, 1992 and 1993 the Bulls won three in a row in monumental fashion; WITHOUT A CENTER. Jordan was 3 time Finals MVP as his center Bill Cartwright averaged only 4.7 rebounds per game in 1991, 5.6 pts and 4.5 rebs in 1992 and 6.3 pts and 4.5 rebs in 1993. Jordan rebounded more in each series. Next in line at center for those teams were Scott Williams, Stacey King and Will Perdue, who all did even worse than Cartwright.
In 1994 Jordan was retired so another team had a chance at a title and who did it? Houston and the greatest center of his generation Hakeem Olajuwon beat N.Y. and their great center Ewing 4-3. Olajuwon averaged 28.9 points, 11 rebs and had 92 blocks and 40 steals in 23 playoff games.
In 1995 the Rockets won again, beating Shaq and Orlando 4-0. Olajuwon was amazing averaging 33 points 10.3 rebs and 4.5 assists in the playoffs.
In 1996 Jordan was back out of retirement and led his team to a all-time record 72-10 with NO CENTER. He took the Bulls to three straight titles AGAIN and was Finals MVP all three times, AGAIN. His center was Luc Longley who snatched up 4.6 rebs in the 1996 playoffs and 6.5 pts and 4.4 boards in 1997 and 7.9 pts and 5 rebs in 1998 playoffs. Jordan rebounded more in each series, and he's a sg. Another monumental fact is that Jordan led the league in scoring all six title seasons which no player except Jabbar in 1971 did.
In 1999 Jordan had retired again after winning another 3 for 3 titles. The league was in shock and the players strike was on. By the end of the strike shortened season, big men were on top again. This time it was the twin towers of David Robsinson 7'1" and Duncan 7'0". Duncan averaged 23.2 and 11.5 while D. rob put up 15.6 and 9.9 in the playoffs.
In 2000, 2001 and 2002 Shaq was in full form as he singlehandedly led the Lakers to three in a row, picking up a well deserved 3 Finals MVP's in a row. Shaq made up for bad Kobe shooting and decision making and put up 30.7 pts, 15.4 rebs and 3.2 assist in the 2000 playoffs as they beat Indiana 4-1. He also blocked 55 shots in 23 games. In 2001 Shaq was even greater with 30.4 points, 15.4 rebs and 3.2 assists and they took the title 4-1 over Philadelphia. In 2002, Finals MVP Shaq put up 28.5 pts and 12.6 boards, while Kobe shot 43% from the field in the playoffs. They beat the Nets 4-0.
In 2003 Duncan and Robinson did it again as Duncan put up 24.7 pts, 15.4 rebs and 5.3 assists and he had 79 blocks in 24 games.
In 2004 Detroit killed L.A. with Big Ben and Rasheed Wallace intimidating their way to the title 4-1. R. Wallace scored 13 pts and 7.8 rebs and B. Wallace grabbed 14.3 rebs and 10.3 pts.
In 2005 Duncan had sidekicks like Ginbili and Parker but he was still the reason. he put up 23.6 pts and 12.4 boards in 37.8 minutes per game in the playoffs.
In 2006 Shaq was in Miami and they beat Dallas in the Finals. Kobe was nowhere to be found because he lost Shaq and the Lakers sucked. In the playoffs Shaq put up 18.4 points and 9.8 rebs in only 33 minutes per night and he shot an amazing 61.2% in the playoffs.
In 2007 Duncan scored 22.2 and grabbed 11.1 boards in the playoffs and then beat LeBron in the Finals 4-0.
In 2008 Garnett joined the Celtics and they won a title. They beat L.A. 4-2. he averaged 20.4 pts and 10.5 rebs in the playoffs.
With a center to lean on, unlike what Jordan ever had The Lakers won it in 2009. Gasol (7') was awesome with 18.3 points and 10.8 rebs and 58% shooting. Kobe shot 45.7% in the playoffs and was only a champ again because Phil Jackson knew he needed a big man to win. Phil who was Jordan's coach never even got a good center for MJ, that is how awesome MJ was.
In 2010 either Gasol or Garnett will be the latest in the giant list of centers who took their team to a tile. This is proof that the centers are the most dominant, defensive and unstoppable forces for a title team Only Michael Jordan had done it without a center. Jordan was the greatest player ever and better than any center who ever lived.
Eat your heart out Kobe and bow down to the 6'5" Michael Jordan.