Reasoning on the River Walk: Who Are the Top 10 Centers in Spurs History?
Several Spurs fans have stated their views about Tiago Splitter being the answer to the team's height challenge against the Lakers.
But are they right? I don't believe so.
The Spurs have had some very good centers since the days NBA teams wore uniforms complete with matching striped socks.
Where does Splitter rank on the list? Don't log off until you find out. Here we go. At No. 10...
10. Will Perdue (1995-99): Air Jordan's Center Before Luc Longley Arrived
He may have only averaged eight minutes and one point per game, but Perdue provided valuable championship experience on the 1998-99 Spurs team.
He'd won three titles with the Bulls before joining the Spurs in a trade that sent him to San Antonio for Dennis Rodman.
With David Robinson and Tim Duncan taking the bulk of the minutes, Perdue was like a player/coach.
9. Francisco Elson: Dutch Dude in the Paint
Hailing from the Netherlands, the 7'0" Elson averaged 4.25 points in 111 games with the Spurs from 2006-08.
Almost resembling seven-footer Kevin Willis—who won a championship in 2003 with the Spurs—Elson was the backup center on the 2007 NBA championship team.
Although he's not a Frenchman, I call him fringey. He was a fringe player in the Alamo City and beyond.
8. Fabricio Oberto: Fringe Benefits
Fringe centers have been valuable in the Duncan era, and Fab is fringe at its finest.
He became a pivotal player in the paint for the Spurs during the 2007 Western Conference Finals against Utah.
He averaged 31 minutes and 14 points in the first two games of the series.
At the age of 31, Oberto was the oldest rookie in Spurs history.
7. Rasho Nesterovic: The Slovenian's Birth Name Is Radoslav
Rasho averaged about six points and six rebounds per game in three seasons.
He played in 232 games and missed only 14 from 2003-06.
Nesterovich won an NBA championship with the Spurs In 2005.
6. Dave Corzine (1980-82): Of Corz He Could Score with the Best of the Backups
Big Dave Corzine played in 164 games for the Spurs, averaging about 24 minutes per game, 10 points and seven rebounds.
He started 21 games—all in the 1981-82 season—but he provided points in the paint off the bench in relief of starter George Johnson.
During his days in the Alamo City, Corzine was the top scoring true center on the roster.
5. Billy Paultz (1976-79, 1979-80, 1982-83): Center of Attention—Next to Gervin
In three different runs with the Spurs, Paultz provided points in the paint as either a starter or coming off the pine.
As a N.Y. Nets rookie in 1970-71, he helped them win the ABA title while the team featured Rick Barry. Paultz was traded to the Alamo City and he made four appearances in the playoffs with the Spurs.
He dropped 15.8 points per game to compliment Ice's 27.2 in 1977-78. A three-time ABA All-Star, Paultz led that league in blocked shots during the 1975-1976 season.
Standing 6'11", his nickname was "The Whopper." Whopper? What, no "Big Whataburger?"
4. Swen Nater (1973-75): He Helped John Wooden Win 2 NCAA Titles
Like Rik Smits, left, Nater was born in the Netherlands. The Dutch boys dominated the paint for stretches in their careers.
The Milwaukee Bucks drafted Nader with the 16th pick in the first round of the 1973 NBA Draft.
The Spurs got him in November that year from the financially-collapsing Virginia Squires for $300,000 and a future draft pick. He was the consensus ABA Rookie of the Year.
3. Tim Duncan: Often Called the Best Power Forward in NBA History
Is Timmy a forward or a center? This is the eternal question. The answer is that he's both.
He was David Robinson's power forward and the 2011 All-Star game's starting center in place of Yao.
Billed as the greatest power forward ever, Duncan virtually single-handedly carried the Spurs to river-parade glory in Game 7 of the 2005 NBA Finals against the Pistons.
2. Artis Gilmore (1982-87): The Afro Ruled the Paint and the Post
With a career average of 18.8 points per game, Gilmore averaged 18 in his first year in the Alamo City.
In the 1984-85 season, he averaged 19.1 with 12 rebounds. The Showtime L.A. Lakers, however, foiled Gilmore's chances at a championship in San Antonio during the 1980s.
1. David Robinson (1989-2003): The Admiral Controlled the Paint and the Ship
Mr. San Antonio, David "five-oh" Robinson made the NBA's 50th Anniversary All-Time team.
After his career in the Navy ended, "The Admiral" was named the 1990 NBA Rookie of the Year. He made the All-Defensive first team four times.
His greatest contribution to San Antonio—and to American society—is the Carver Academy located near downtown in the Alamo City.
He could probably be the mayor of S.A. and the governor of Texas. Dare I say president of the United States?
I've dared to state my case for the top 10 centers in Spurs history. No Tiago, but it's time for me to split. Until next time...good reading, good loving and good health.
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