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L.A. Lakers: Shaquille O'Neal and the Greatest Centers in Team History

Joshua SextonSenior Analyst IIApril 21, 2011

L.A. Lakers: Shaquille O'Neal and the Greatest Centers in Team History

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    Adam Pretty/Getty Images

    One thing is for certain: The Los Angeles Lakers have never been short when it comes to dominating centers.

    Whether it be George Mikan, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar or Shaquille O'Neal, the team has had some of the most talented centers the game of basketball has ever seen.

    Enough of the buildup. Here are 10 greatest centers in Lakers history.

10. Darrall Imhoff

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    Darrall Imhoff helped Jerry West and Elgin Baylor lead the Lakers to three NBA Finals appearances in the 1960s.

    Imhoff made his first and only All-Star team in 1967 as a member of the Lakers.

    Photo courtesy of the Los Angeles Times.

9. Elmore Smith

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    Elmore Smith spent two seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers in 1974 and 1975.

    Smith was the Lakers’ center in between Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s stints with the team.

    As the Lakers’ center, Elmore averaged 11 points and 11 rebounds.

    While playing with the Buffalo Braves in 1973, Smith averaged a career-high 18 points per game.

    Photo courtesy of the Los Angeles Times.

8. Mychal Thompson

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    Ken Levine/Getty Images

    Mychal Thompson spent five seasons of his career with the Lakers, helping the team win back-to-back championships in 1987 and 1988.

    While Thompson’s career averages are not jaw dropping (13 points, seven rebounds), he provided the Lakers much needed depth in the frontcourt after the team lost to Hakeem Olajuwon and Ralph Sampson in the 1986 Western Conference Finals.

    Plain and simple, Thompson was a perfect backup for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

7. Andrew Bynum

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    Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    Drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers with the 10th overall pick in 2005, Andrew Bynum has helped the Lakers win the last two NBA championships.

    While Bynum has struggled with various knee injuries the last few seasons, he has shown flashes of brilliance.

    Bynum is not only a huge part of the Lakers’ current success, but the 23-year-old figures to be the Lakers’ starting center for many years to come.

6. Vlade Divac

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Vlade Divac spent parts of eight seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers. In 1991, Divac helped the Lakers reach the NBA Finals.

    Divac averaged a career-high 16 points per game with the Lakers in 94-95.

    In 2001, Divac made his first and only All-Star team as a member of the Sacramento Kings.

    Divac will most be remembered by Lakers fans as the guy who was traded for Kobe Bryant and his years with the Sacramento Kings during the two team’s Western Conference Finals showdown in 2002.

5. Clyde Lovellette

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    Clyde Lovellette spent four seasons of his Hall of Fame career with the Minneapolis Lakers, helping the team win the 1954 championship.

    Lovellette made the 1956 All-Star team as a member of the Lakers, and he would eventually make two more All-Star teams in 1960 and 1961 as a member of the St. Louis Hawks.

    Lovellette was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1988.

    Photo courtesy of LakerStats.

4. George Mikan

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    George Mikan led the Lakers to five championships during the team’s tenure in Minneapolis.

    Mikan’s 1952-54 Lakers were the first team to win three straight NBA championships.

    Mikan made six career All-NBA first teams and four career All-Star teams.

    Also, George Mikan was selected as one of the 50 greatest players of all time in 1996 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1959.

    George Mikan is widely recognized as the first dominant big man in professional basketball.

    Photo courtesy of entertainment.howstuffworks.com.

3. Shaquille O'Neal

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    From 1996 to 2004, Shaquille O’Neal manned the painted area for the Los Angeles Lakers. O’Neal led the Lakers to three consecutive championships in 2000, 2001 and 2002.

    In his eight seasons with the Lakers, O’Neal averaged 27 points and 11 rebounds.

    In 122 playoff games with the organization, O’Neal averaged 27 points and nearly 13 rebounds.

    Over his 18-year career, O’Neal has won one MVP award, three finals MVPs, four career championships and has been selected to 15 All-Star teams and eight All-NBA first teams.

    Additionally, O’Neal has won two scoring titles, was named the 1992-1993 Rookie of the Year and is currently in fifth place on the all-time scoring list.

2. Wilt Chamberlain

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    Brian Bahr/Getty Images

    Wilt Chamberlain spent the last five years of his illustrious career with the Los Angeles Lakers.

    Chamberlain helped the Lakers win the 1972 championship.

    As a member of the Lakers, Chamberlain made four All-Star teams and was the 1972 finals MVP.

    For his career, Chamberlain averaged 30 points, 23 rebounds and four assists.

    Chamberlain was selected to 13 All-Star teams, seven All-NBA first teams and two All-Defensive first teams.

    In addition, he won four MVP awards, seven scoring titles, 11 rebounding titles and was named one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history in 1996.

    Chamberlain was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1979.

    Oh yeah, he also scored 100 points in a game on March 2, 1962 in Hershey Pennsylvania.

1. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

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    Mike Powell/Getty Images

    Kareem Abdul-Jabbar spent 14 of his 20 seasons in the NBA with the Los Angeles Lakers, helping the team win five championships in the 1980s.

    As a member of the Lakers, Jabbar won three MVP awards and was named the finals MVP in 1985.

    Jabbar averaged 24 points, 11 rebounds and three assists over his 20-year career en route to winning six MVP awards, two finals MVPs and six championships.

    In addition, Jabbar was named to 19 All-Star teams, ten All-NBA first teams and five All-Defensive first teams.

    Jabbar is the all-time leading scorer in NBA history and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1995.

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