Ranking the Greatest Centers in NBA History
Welcome back to the "Greatest Ever" series, as we continue with the ranks of the top centers in the NBA History
This is a game of the big men who have dominated and marked their eras in style. The first pioneer of basketball was Mineapolis center George Mikan who brought his team five titles
Than, the likes of Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain just took it to a whole new level and made it a sport. The 70s was the era of dominant centers led by Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Bill Walton, and the rest
In the 80s, some of the known names of the 70s continued their work, yes, we are talking about Captain Sky Hook, Gilmore, and Walton.
After this era, the 90s offered some of the top centers ever in Hakeem Olajuwon, Patrick Ewing, and David Robinson, and with the arrival of Shaquille O'Neal it was even more competitive
But in the 00s, the center position suffered a downturn, in which time O'Neal, Yao Ming and a new, strong hope, Dwight Howard, were the only notable centers of the past 10 years.
The job of a center is to be a force in the post with nice back to the basket game, to rip down boards and block shots. However, not many traditional big men are left
You have Dwight Howard, Andrew Bynum, Greg Oden, Yao Ming, washed-up Shaq, and few more. The rest are power forwards playing on their secondary spot to fill the needs of their teams
This position has by far most depth of any position ever. Here are the top centers through the NBA history
10. David Robinson
The 7'1" muscular, strong, agile, and fast David Robinson was one of the greatest centers of all time.
He is one of the best defensive players ever, and one of the most prolific shot blockers in the history of the NBA. Robinson also had nice, well-rounded game with a good outside shot for a player of his size.
In his first six seasons, he became the second player ever after Kareem to win a scoring, rebound, and block title which made him a strong presence on both ends.
He won two championships after teaming up with Tim Duncan. In the first title run, he averaged a double-double and in the second he grabbed 17 rebounds in the clinching Game Six.
He has scoring (29.8), rebound (13.0), and blocks (4.5) titles while leading the league in points, boards, blocks, and free throws in total couple of times.
He tallied 20,790 points (21.1), grabbed 10,497 rebounds(10.6), blocked 2,954 shots (3,0)for his career.
In the playoffs he had 2,221 points (18.1), grabbed 1,301 rebounds (10.6), and dished out 280 assists (2.6)
NBA champion (1999, 2003); MVP (1995); Defensive Player of the Year (1992); Rookie of the Year (1990); All-NBA First Team (1991, '92, '95, '96); All-NBA Second Team (1994, '98); All-NBA Third Team (1990, '93, 2000, '01); All-Defensive First Team (1991, '92, '95, '96); All-Defensive Second Team (1990, '93, '94, '98); 10-time NBA All-Star; NBA Sportsmanship Award (2001); Three-time Olympian (1988, '92, '96); One of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History (1996).
9. Patrick Ewing
One of the greatest centers in the NBA history, Patrick Ewing could be described with one word, "warrior."
He was elite on both ends, as a strong inside finisher with nice touch from mid range, as well as a great rebounder and even better shot blocker. He was a fighter and leader for the Knicks
His fantastic skill set is one of the finest ever for any center, and the numbers show it. He retired as the Knicks all time leader in points, boards, blocked shots, and steals
The warrior always gave 110 percent, and before knee problems started, this guy was the top center in the league.
Ewing couldn't win a title, losing a few times against Jordan or Hakeem, which is a shame because he would have been higher on the list. He just didn't have good luck.
He scored 24,815 points (21.0), grabbed 11,607 rebounds (9.8), and blocked 2,894 shots (2.4) during his career.
In the playoffs, he recorded 2,813 points (20.3), grabbed 1,435 rebounds (10.2), and dished out 122 assists (2.0)
Rookie of Year (1985); All-NBA First Team (1990); All-NBA Second Team (1988, '89, '91, '92, '93, '97); All-Defensive Second Team (1988, '89, '92); 11-time NBA All-Star; One of 50 Greatest Players in NBA History (1996); Two-time Olympic gold medalist (1984, '92).
8. Willis Reed
At 6'9", the left-handed Willis Reed had an excellent post game along with a deadly shot from 15 feet. He also dominated on the boards and was an elite defender with good shot blocking skills, making him a real threat.
He had nice all-around game to go along with the heart and soul of a true champion.
He will be forever remembered for his return in Game Seven of the 1970 NBA Finals when he inspired his team and won the Finals MVP after going down hard in Game Five.
He was a great clutch performer, who raised his seasons averages in the playoffs and dominated his competition. He averaged 32 points and 15 rebounds per game against Wilt Chamberlain in the finals
He also got the best out of Wes Unseld with games of 36 points and 36 rebounds performances. However, health problems cut short his great career, but when he was healthy, he was really good.
Reed tailed 12,183 points (18.7), grabbed 8,414 rebounds (12.9), and dished out 1,186 assists (1.8) for his career.
In the playoffs,he recorded 1,358 points (17.4), grabbed 801 rebounds (10.2), and dished out 149 assists (2.0).
Elected to Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (1982); NBA champion (1970, '73); NBA MVP (1970); All-NBA First Team (1970); All-NBA Second Team (1967, '68, '69, '71); NBA All-Defensive Team (1970); Rookie of the Year (1965); One of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History (1996).
7. Bill Walton
Bill Walton is considered one of the greatest centers in the NBA history. When healthy, he drew comparisons to the likes of Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain.
He was an excellent scorer, passer, rebounder, shot blocker, defender. Simply said, he was a dominant player on both ends, and had incredible leadership skills.
He's generally regarded as the best big man passers and arguably had the finest skill set for any seven-footer in the history of the NBA. The only thing that slowed him down were injuries
Even though he had health problems,Walton left a strong impact on the 70s and on the Portland Trail Blazers, where he's often mentioned as the finest player in the history of the franchise
He led the Blazers to a title in the 1976-77 seasons when they shocked the world with beating a lot better teams and posted amazing performances in the Finals with a stunning 18.5 points per game, 19 rebounds per game, and 3.7 blocks per game
In the deciding Game Seven of the Finals, he played even better with 20 points, 23 rebounds, eight assists, and seven blocks
Bill Walton had rebound(14.4) and blocks(3.2) titles in his career season.
He tailed 6,215 points (13.3), grabbed 4,923 rebounds (10.5), and blocked 1049 shots (2.2) in the regular season, these relatively low totals are largely because of the health problems.
In the playoffs, has recorded 528 points (10.9), grabbed 444 rebounds(9.2), and dished out 145 assists (3.0). His first two playoff runs were very good, but he was plagued by injuries in the last two.
Elected to Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (1993); NBA champion (1977, '86); NBA Finals MVP (1977); NBA MVP (1978); All-NBA First Team (1978); All-NBA Second Team (1977); NBA All-Defensive Team (1977, '78); NBA All-Star (1977, '78); Sixth Man Award (1986); One of 50 Greatest Players in NBA History (1996).
The first great high school player to make a successful career in a very talented era, Moses Malone is one of the game's greatest players.
Malone was an undersized center, but he had incredible strength and quickness which made him a dominant rebounder and effective scorer. He got into the lane often and was a force.
He's arguablly the best offensive rebounder the NBA history, holding the all-time record with 6,731.
Malone is the only one ever to average at least 20 points and 10 rebounds per game on four different teams.
He was strong in the playoffs, where he led his respective teams to success and won his only title against the Lakers.
In those Finals series, he demolished the Showtime Lakers with a stunning 25.8 points, 18.0 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game in one of the most dominant performances ever.
He also won five rebound titles, was active among the league leaders in categories of total, offensive, and defensive rebounds. He was legendary.
During his career, he tallied 27,409 points (20.6), grabbed 16,212 rebounds (12.2), and blocked 1,889 shots (1.3) in the regular season.
In the playoffs, he recorded 2,077 points (22.3), grabbed 1,295 rebounds (13.8), and dished out 136 assists (1.5).
Elected to Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (2001); NBA champion (1983); NBA Finals MVP (1983); NBA MVP (1979, '82, '83); All-NBA First Team (1979, '82, '83, '85); All-NBA Second Team (1980, '81, '84, '87); All-Defensive First Team (1983); All-Defensive Second Team (1979); 12-time All-Star; One of 50 Greatest Players in NBA History (1996).
5. Hakeem Olajuwon
During his 18-year career, Hakeem Olajuwon established himself as one of the greatest players ever.
He had the best footwork for any big man, and is considered one of the top defenders ever, to go along with a fine offensive game. He also had a most amazing post move called "The Dream Shake". He was excellent on the boards, in other words, his all-around game was finest among all the big men.
Olajuwon was the No. 1 pick of the 1984 draft and didn't disappoint the Houston Rockets where he's the most outstanding player to play for the franchise.
Hakeem led the Rockets to two titles with all-time great performances like 27 points, 10 rebounds, and seven assists vs. Patrick Ewing's New York Knicks. He played on a whole new level where it counted most.
At his peak, Olajuwon averaged 33 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 2.8 blocks in the Finals against Shaq in one of the best finals matchups for big men. He outplayed his competition
He was active among the league leaders,won two rebound titles(13.5, 14.0), three block titles(4.6,3.9, 4.2), and was a pure force on both ends. His move, "The Dream Shake," is by far the most creative low post move of all time.
He tallied 26,946 points (21.1), grabbed 13,748 rebounds (11.1), and blocked 3,830 shots (3.1) during his career.
In the playoffs,he has recorded 3,755 points (25.9), grabbed 1,621 rebounds (11.9), and dished out 458 assists (3.5).
Hakeem Olajuwon could be argued as the NBA's best-ever center.
NBA champion (1994, '95); NBA Finals MVP (1994, '95); NBA MVP (1994); Defensive Player of Year (1993, '94); All-NBA First Team (1987, '88, '89, '93, '94, '97); All-NBA Second Team ('86, '90, '96); Third Team (1991, '95, '99); All-Defensive First Team ('87, '88, '90, '93, '94); 12-time All-Star; Olympic gold medalist (1996); One of 50 Greatest Players in NBA History (1996).
The only active player on this list, Shaquille O'Neal is one of the greatest players of all time.
His size, strength, athleticism, and agility, combined with superior basketball skills made him a monster, the great legend that he is.
In his prime, Shaq was an unstoppable, powerful player, who's consider one of the most dominating players to step on an NBA hardwood. He's also the best at making impact and most efficient scorer in the history of the game.
During his prime with the Lakers, Shaq won three straight titles, earned the Finals MVP honors, and became one of the rare legends to win at least three titles in a row, which is fantastic accomplishment
He was strong, clutch performer, who in the Finals posted the highest scoring averages for among big men and posted some of the most finest all-around Finals performances. He was great in almost every area
The moment he stepped on the court, he dominated his competition like Hakeem, Ewing, Robinson, Zo and almost anyone who stood in his way to success
He has won two scoring titles(29.3, 29.7), and has been the league leader in total points and field goals. Also, Shaq Attack has led the NBA a record 10 times in FG percentage.
He has tallied 28,255 points (24.1), grabbed 12,921 rebounds (11.0), and blocked 2690 (2.3) shots in his career.
In the playoffs, he has recorded 5,248 points (24.5), grabbed 2,508 rebounds (11.7), and dished out 581 assists (2.7)
A case can be made that Shaq is the best center, and perhaps the greatest player of all time. When he retires he will crack my top three.
4× NBA Champion (2000, 2001, 2002, 2006), 3× NBA Finals MVP (2000-2002), NBA Most Valuable Player (2000), NBA Rookie of the Year (1993), 15× NBA All-Star (1993-1998, 2000-2007, 2009), 2× NBA scoring champion (1995,2000), 8× All-NBA First Team (1998, 2000-2006), 2× All-NBA Second Team (1995, 1999), 4× All-NBA Third Team (1994, 1996-1997, 2010), 3× All-Defensive Second Team (2000–2001, 2003), NBA All-Rookie First Team (1993), 3× NBA All-Star Game MVP (2000, 2004, 2009), 1994 FIBA World Championship MVP
3. Wilt Chamberlain
As we move on, we start with the first out of the three most legendary big men ever, and Wilt Chamberlain is nothing less
Regarded as one of the finest players ever. He was dominant, athletic, and had endless stamina, allowing him to post insane statistics.
Just how great was Wilt? Oscar Robertson summed it best with the quote on the question is he the greatest of all time, "The books don't lie". That's good answer, considering the fact that this guy holds 60 of the 72 NBA records!
Want some records? How about 100 points in a single games, 55 rebounds in a single game, only player to score 4,000 points in a season, scored 50 ppg through an entire season, and grabbed 27 boards, too.
He was the best offensive force in the history of basketball, and was perhaps the greatest rebounder of all time. He also played excellent defense.
Chamberlain's height didn't made him great, it was the fantastic physical abilities combined with his skills. He was more then dunks. He had the fade away, finger role, and the hook shot.
His statistics are amazing!He was won seven scoring titles, 11 rebound titles, and led the league eight times in FG percentage. Here is link to his career statistics:http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/c/chambwi01.html
His biggest problem was Bill Russell, who was the only one who could slow him in the playoffs. Wilt still averaged a triple double and grabbed 55 boards against Russell.
He tailed 31,419 points (30.1),grabbed 23,924 rebounds (22.9), and dished out 4,643 assists (4.4) in the regular season.
In the playoffs,he recorded 3607 points (22.5), grabbed 3,913 rebounds (24.5), and dished out 673 assists (4.2)
Elected to Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (1978); NBA champion (1967, '72); NBA Finals MVP (1972); NBA MVP (1960, '66, '67, '68); All-NBA First Team (1960, '61, '62, '64, '66, '67, '68); Second Team ('63, '65, '72); All-Defensive First Team (1972, '73); Rookie of Year (1960); One of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History (1996).
2. Kareem Abdul Jabbar
Kareem Abdul Jabbar is one of the biggest legends ever.
His list of personal and team accomplishments are incredible. When he retired, no one had scored more points, blocked more shots, won more MVP awards, played longer, or was on more All-Star teams.
Kareem was a superb scorer, rebounder, shot blocker, and defender. He was also a leader, a champion, and a winner.
He brought skills and grace to the center spot, proving that you don't have to be tall or strong to be great.
This guy was awesome in the playoffs and Finals. He was the oldest Finals MVP at age 36, posting an incredible line of 30.2 points, 11.3 rebounds, 6.5 assists, and 2.3 blocks per game.
He had a body to work that any basketball player would dream for. He was capable of playing 32-35 minutes in his late 30s and played through two full decades.
He tallied 38,387 points (24.6), grabbed 17,440 rebounds (11.2), and dished out 5,660 assists (3.6) in his career.
In the playoffs he recorded 5,762 points (24.3), grabbed 2,481 rebounds (10.5), and dished out 767 assits (3.2).
He also has two scoring titles (31.7, 34.8) and rebound title(16, 9) along with four blocks titles (3.3, 4.0, 3.4, 4.1), and led the league in FG percentage once.
Elected to Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (1995); NBA champion (1971, '80, '82, '85, '87, '88); NBA MVP (1971, '72, '74, '76, '77, '80); All-NBA First Team (1971, '72, '73, '74, '76, '77, '80, '81, '84, '86); All-NBA Second Team (1970, '78, '79, '83, '85); All-Defensive First Team (1974, '75, '79, '80, '81); All-Defensive Second Team (1970, '71, '76, '77, '78, '84); Rookie of the Year (1970); 19-time All-Star; One of 50 Greatest Players in NBA History (1996).
1. Bill Russell
The biggest champion, and the best defender, shot blocker, and leader, Bill Russell is arguably the greatest player of all time.
No defensive master mind was ever as good as Russell, the man changed the game with his ability to block shots and successfully combine defense and championships to become a legend.
He was terrific at rebounding, shot blocking, and defending, and he could pass and shoot on the offensive side. He was also a student of the game and possessed an incredible basketball IQ.
Russell was the most dominant clutch performer. He's the all-time playoff and Finals leader in rebounds, both total and per game.
Russell the only guy who could stop Wilt Chamberlain, beating him three times in the Finals and drastically lowering his usually sky-high numbers.
He tallied 14,522 points (15.1), grabbed 21,620 rebounds (22.5), and dished out 4,100 assists (4.3) during the regular season.
In the playoffs, he recorded 2,673 points (16,2),grabbed 4,104 rebounds (24.9), and dished out 770 assists (4.7)
Russell won guy won five rebound titles (19.6, 22.7, 23.0, 24.7, 24.1) and is one of the best rebounders in the history of basketball.
However, he gets discredited in the greatest of all time even though he led the Celtics to eleven titles. That's not fair.
Elected to Naismith Basketball Basketball Hall of Fame (1975); NBA champion (1957, '59, '60, '61, '62, '63, '64, '65, '66, '68, '69); NBA MVP (1958, '61, '62, '63, '65); All-NBA First Team (1959, '63, '65); Eight-time All-NBA Second Team; NBA All-Defensive Team (1969); 12-time NBA All-Star (1958-69); All-Star MVP (1963); One of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History (1996); Olympic gold medalist (1956).
Robert Parish, Dave Cowens, Artis Gilmore, Nate Thurmond, Wes Unseld, and George Mikan.