Welcome back to the "Greatest Ever" series as we continue with the ranks of the top front court in the history of the NBA.
The league has always been a game of the big men, the power forward, and centers. The first pioneer of the game of basketball, George Mikan, led the Minneapolis Lakers to five championships
Then, the likes of Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain left a strong impact with their battles, and turned it into a sport. As their time finished, in the next decade again the giants commanded and so on.
In summary, the big men made it their game with the decades such as the 70's and 90's proving to be golden eras for them in which teams relied on them in order to make a team.
The depth of the center position is the deepest by far of any position, you have five guys in there with cases that can make him stand on top of that list. The power forward position is little behind but still decent.
Here are the greatest front courts in the NBA History!
Ralph Sampson and Hakeem Olajuwon created one of the greatest twin towers in the NBA History
They complimented each others game on the court, and led the Houston Rockets to a Finals Appearance in 1986 but failed to beat the Celtics in an intensive series.
Player profile: Ralph Sampson
The 7'4" Sampson was very agile, and versatile player who often played as the power forward.
He could dribble pretty well for a man of his size, and could also bring the ball to the table. Sampson was also an efficient finisher down low.
That was until the injuries started to slow him down, and ended his career.
Before he retired, he was 3 time All Star, won MVP at the All Star Game, and was a consistent double-double threat.
He will be forever be remembered in the history of the Rockets who made their second Finals Appearance thanks to his tip in against the Showtime Lakers!
He recorded 7,039 points (15.4), grabbed 4,011 boards (8.8) and blocked 1,363 shots (1.6) in the regular season. In the playoffs,he recorded 18.7 points, 10.5 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game.
Player profile: 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.
Hakeem also had the 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.
He 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. Olajuwon played on a whole new level when 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).
Willis Reed, and Dave DeBusschere formed the finest combo of under sized center and power forward ever.
Their prolific rebounding, incredible post defense, and scoring were one of the most crucial things for the success of the legendary generation of basketball players from New York in those two title runs.
Both were consistent All Stars, and ranked among the league's very best defenders as well.
Player profile: Dave DeBusschere
One of the top defensive master minds that the game has seen, and regarded as the most versatile defender before "The Worm," DeBusschere ranks among the best forwards of all time.
He wasn't called "Big D" for nothing. That "D" stood for defense. He earned six straight All-NBA First Defensive Selections, which added to his fine scoring abilities and prolific rebounding ability too.
He helped the New York Knicks win their only titles with his lock down defense, superb rebounding, and scoring abilities which made him a threat and clutch.
He has tailed 14,053 points (16.1 ppg),grabbed 9,618 rebounds (11.0 rpg) and dished out 2,497 assists (2.9 apg) in his 11 year career.
In the post season he recorded 1,536 points (16.0 ppg),grabbed 1,155 rebounds (12.0 rpg) and dished out 256 assists (2.0 apg)
Elected to Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (1983); NBA champion (1970, '73); Six-time All-Defensive First Team (1969-74); All-Rookie team (1963); Eight-time NBA All-Star (1966-68, '70-73); All-NBA Second Team (1969); One of 50 Greatest Players in NBA History (1996).
Player profile: 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 season averages in the playoffs and dominated his competition. Reed 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. 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)
Robert Parish and Kevin McHale are just a good example of how good the tradition of legendary big men that the Boston Celtics has had.
Along side Bird, they formed one of the most dominate trios in the history of the NBA which was one of the key factors for the incredible success that the Boston Celtics had in the 80's.
Both earned couple of championships during that period, but the Chief added one more to his collection in the late parts of his career.
Player profile: Robert Parish
7'1" agile, and strong Robert Parish was one of the greatest centers in the NBA History.
He had fantastic endurance, and he has played the most games in the history of the league thanks to that.
Parish is often overlooked because, he played in the remarkable Celtics during the 80's.
He ranks among the top rebounders and defensive players ever who also had one of the most outstanding skill set for any big man. What Parish also brought to the court was a great post up game, and nice jump shot
His endurance made him a tough player who posted really awesome numbers in the playoffs, and he also had double-double averages for a team that had really great presence on the glass along the likes of Bird, and McHale.
He has tailed 23,334 points (14.5),grabbed 14,715 rebounds (9.1) and blocked 2,361 shots (1.5) in 1611 games(NBA record).
In the playoffs,he recorded 2,820 points (15.3),grabbed 1,765 rebounds (9.3) and dished out 234 assists (1.3).
Honors: Elected to Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (2003); NBA champion (1981, '84, '86, '97); All-NBA Second Team (1982); All-NBA Third Team (1989); Nine-time All-Star; One of 50 Greatest Players in NBA History (1996).
Player Profile:Kevin McHale
Arguable the best low post player ever seen, Kevin McHale is regarded as one of the game's greatest power forwards.
He had ideal physical body for basketball which combined with excellent skills enabled him to pull dozens of creative post moves, grab rebounds, and block shots.
A terrific player who was a force from the bench or in the starting lineup, he accomplished a lot in his career and helped to create one of the finest front courts in NBA history.
He has tailed 17,335 points (17.9 ppg),grabbed 7,122 rebounds (7.3 rpg) and blocked 1,690 blocks (1.7 bpg) during the regular season.
In the playoffs, he recorded 3,182 points (18.8 ppg),grabbed 1,253 rebounds (7.4 rpg) and dished out 274 assists (1.6 apg).
—3 NBA Champion (1981, 1984, 1986)
—7 NBA All-Star (1984, 1986–1991)
—1 All-NBA First Team Selection (1987)
—3 NBA All-Defensive First Team Selection (1986–1988)
—3 NBA All-Defensive Second Team Selection (1983, 1989–1990)
—2 NBA Sixth Man of the Year (1984–1985)
—1981 NBA All-Rookie Team
— NBA's 50th Anniversary All-Time Team
Wes Unseld and Elvin Hayes are both considered as one of the best big men in the history of the NBA.
The quest of championships made both of them team up, put the usual individual numbers aside, and combine the leadership and fantastic work they both had on the boards.
Their contribution to the only championship they ever won together and in their careers was really an amazing achievement for both of the players who are legends of the game.
Player Profile: Wes Unseld
The 6'7" Wes Unseld is regarded as one of the greatest centers in the history of the NBA.
Often towered by most of the opponents, he was a fearless competitor who found dozens of ways to contribute no matter what.
He was the master at boxing out on the missed shots, and that's why he was a consistent rebounder through his career. Unseld had an underrated offensive game, and leadership skills.
In the 1977-78 season, he accomplished something that he has never done before; that's winning a championship.
He teamed up with the Big E, and won his only title ever and got the Finals MVP honor.
To this very day, aside of Wilt Chamberlain, he's the only one ever to win a Rookie Of The Year award with league MVP!
He has tailed 10,624 points (10.8),grabbed 13,769 rebounds (14.0) and dished out 3,822 assists (3.9) in the regular season.
In the playoffs,he has recorded 1,260 points (10.8),grabbed 1,777 rebounds (14.9) and dished out 459 assists (3.8).
His career rebounding average of 14.0 ranks 6th best ever in the regular season and average of 14.9 ranks 4th best in the playoffs.
Honors: Elected to Basketball Hall of Fame (1988); NBA Rookie of the Year (1969); NBA MVP (1969); All NBA First Team (1969); NBA All-Star (1969-'73, '75); NBA Champion (1978); NBA Finals MVP (1978); J. Walter Kennedy Citzenship Award (1975); One of the Greatest Players in NBA History (1996).
Player profile:Elvin Hayes
One of the greatest players in the NBA history, Elvin Hayes is one of the best power forwards of all time.
Hayes didn't wait long to make a spark in the league, doing so from the start when he became the only rookie ever to lead the league in scoring.
He had a fantastic post game, a nice shot, was a prolific rebounder, and incredible defender. Hayes was one of the most dominating big men, and top defensive power forwards.
He was active among the leaders in dozens of categories, and has won a scoring title (28.4 ppg), two rebound titles (16.9 rpg and 18.1 rpg in those seasons), twice in total rebounds and once in both offensive and defensive boards.
He has tailed 27,313 points, grabbed 16,279 rebounds, and blocked 1,771 shots (2.0 bpg) in the regular season. Keep in mind his number of blocks, which for most of his career, were not tallied.
In the playoffs, he has recorded 2,194 points (22.9 ppg), grabbed 1,244 rebounds (13.0 rpg) and dished out 185 assists (1.9 apg)
Honors: Elected to Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (1990); NBA champion (1978); All-NBA First Team (1975, '77, '79); All-NBA Second Team (1973, '74, '76); All-Defensive Second Team (1974, '75); All-Rookie Team (1969); 12-time All-Star (1969-80); One of 50 Greatest Players in NBA History ('96).
Tim Duncan and David Robinson created arguable the greatest front court of all times
Their team work led to superb defense in the low post. They dominated the boards, and were terrific scorers on offense when they played together. Both put up excellent numbers. Well, Robinson did until he got up there in age.
When they were defending, Duncan was the one who did the work more on the ground. Robinson was in the air, blocking shots, and both were very active on the glass.
The Admiral was so unselfish and latter, he relied more on his ability to nail the jump shot while he let the young power forward do the work inside the post.
The Twin Towers helped the San Antonio Spurs to win 3 titles in the span of a few of seasons. When The Admiral retired, Duncan took over as the leader and guided the Spurs to another championship.
Player Profile: 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, rebounding, 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), rebounding (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).
Player Profile: Tim Duncan
Although many others make strong cases, Tim Duncan stands above the rest and is regarded as one of the best players in NBA History.
He's the most consistent players, and one of the top defenders in the league's history who is always a double-double threat, possesses high basketball IQ, and is one of the biggest winners ever during the regular season rivaling Magic Johnson as the winningest player in the game.
He's the only player ever to record eight straight All NBA First Defensive Team Selections, has an excellent post game, is a prolific rebounder, and shot blocker who's good at passing and is a undeniable leader of his team.
Duncan has also led the league once in total rebounds, and offensive boards.
So far, he has tailed 20,641 points (21.1 ppg),grabbed 11,335 rebounds and blocked 2,235 shots (2.3 bpg) during the regular season.
In the post season 3,914 points (23.0 ppg),grabbed 2,114 rebounds (12.4 rpg) and dished out 587 assists (3.5 apg) and blocked 438 shots.
—4 NBA Champion (1999, 2003, 2005, 2007)
—3 NBA Finals MVP (1999, 2003, 2005)
—2 NBA Most Valuable Player (2002–2003)
—NBA Rookie of the Year (1998)
—12 NBA All-Star (1998, 2000–2010)
—9 All-NBA First Team (1998–2005, 2007)
—3 All-NBA Second Team (2006, 2008–2009)
—All-NBA Third Team (2010)
— 8 All-Defensive First Team (1999–2003, 2005, 2007–2008)
—5 All-Defensive Second Team (1998, 2004, 2006, 2009–2010)
—NBA All-Rookie First Team (1998)
—NBA All-Star Game MVP (2000)
—USBWA College Player of the Year (1997)
—Naismith College Player of the Year (1997)
—John Wooden Award (1997)
—2 ACC Player of the Year (1996–1997)