Shaquille O'Neal Retires: Where He Ranks Among Greatest Centers in NBA History

Ethan NorofCorrespondent IJune 1, 2011

Shaquille O'Neal Retires: Where He Ranks Among Greatest Centers in NBA History

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    25 May 2001:   Shaquille O''Neal #34 of the Los Angeles Lakers defends David Robinson #50 of the San Antonio Spurs during the second quarter of game three in the western conference finals at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.  DIGITAL IMAGE.
    Donald Miralle/Getty Images

    Shaquille O'Neal has retired from the game of basketball.

    After struggling mightily this season with injuries and really looking like a shell of his former self, The Diesel has decided to call it quits after an absolutely remarkable NBA career.

    We're here to take a look at how his impressive resume stacks up to the most memorable centers to ever play the game.

10. Patrick Ewing

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    Career Averages: 21.0 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 2.4 blocks

    Ewing might have spent the final two seasons of his career donning a different uniform, but he'll always be remembered for his days as a member of the Knicks.

    Averaging a double-double from 1989-98, Ewing's presence in the middle was instrumental to the team's success in a very big way. 

9. Bill Walton

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    Career Averages: 13.3 ppg, 10.5 rpg, 2.2 blocks

    If injuries hadn't sabotaged Walton's success at the professional level, he'd undoubtedly be a lot higher on this list.

    When the big man was able to stay upright, he was one of the most prolific contributors in the middle throughout the game, and watching highlights of his play makes it easy to see why he's so revered in league circles. 


8. David Robinson

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    Career Averages: 21.1 ppg, 10.6 rpg, 3.0 blocks

    Robinson will probably go down as one of the most under-appreciated players in the history of the NBA, considering how incredibly productive he was during his tenure with the Spurs.

    He spent his entire career with the same franchise, which was almost unheard of during the era which he played, and rewarded the city of San Antonio mightily with his efforts. 


7. George Mikan

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    Career Averages: 23.1 ppg, 9.5 rpg

    Mikan was not only one of the most overpowering centers to ever play the game of basketball, he was one of the sport's most dominant players period.

    An inaugural member of the first Hall of Fame class to be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1959, his impact on the game is still largely felt throughout the league. 


6. Moses Malone

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    Career Averages: 20.3 ppg, 12.3 rpg, 1.3 blocks

    Malone was not only a force on the glass on a nightly basis, he was a dynamic scorer for someone of his size and always brought an extreme intensity to the hardwood.

    Although he lacked some of the traditional size that would accompany the big man position, he made up for it with his strength and incredibly high basketball IQ in an era where many players simply weren't as basketball-savvy as he.


5. Hakeem Olajuwon

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    Career Averages: 21.8 ppg, 11.1 rpg, 3.1 blocks

    There was a reason that Olajuwon's patented jumper was called the "Dream Shake," and it's because his competition could only dream of both executing it on their own and attempting to defend Olajuwon's.

    When he hung em' up, Olajuwon was the Rockets' franchise leader in points, blocks, steals and rebounds, and it's unlikely that we see a shot-swatter in the middle like Hakeem for a very long time.

4. Shaquille O'Neal

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    Career Averages: 23.7 ppg, 10.9 rpg, 2.3 blocks

    A four-time NBA champion, O'Neal was the most physically intimidating specimen that the NBA has ever experienced from the moment that he burst onto the scene as a rookie.

    He was absolutely dominant at times, averaging almost 30 points and 14 rebounds in the 1999-2000 season, but those numbers were routine for the Shaqtus during the prime of his career. 


3. Wilt Chamberlain

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    Career Averages: 30.1 ppg, 22.9 rpg

    Those stats slap the taste right out of your mouth. And if somehow those numbers fail to impress you, all you've got to do is take one look at the included image and remember that this man scored 100 points in a single contest.

    Chamberlain was more talented than the opposition that he faced by leaps and bounds, but that doesn't make his achievements any less impressive. His name will never be forgotten so long as the game of basketball is played professionally.


2. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

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    Career Averages: 24.6 ppg, 11.2 rpg, 2.6 blocks

    With six MVP awards, six championship rings, and three NBA Finals MVP awards to his credit, it's clear that Kareem was all about winning when he was shooting those sky-hooks in the face of opposing defenders.

    He was a standout shooter from the field, an excellent offensive rebounder and posted some of the craziest season averages you've ever seen with your own eyes. 


1. Bill Russell

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    Career Averages: 15.1 ppg, 22.5 rpg

    It's pretty rare that you find a player who averages more rebounds than he does points and maintains a double-double clip for his entire career, but it's not every day you find a player like Bill Russell.

    He won 11 titles in just 13 seasons, played in 12 All-Star Games and garnered five MVP awards, so it's fairly easy to see why he's sitting atop the list. 

    Nobody will ever come close to touching his spot as the most prolific champion of all time.