Dwight Howard and the 7 Greatest Centers in NBA History

D BContributor IIIJune 19, 2011

Dwight Howard and the 7 Greatest Centers in NBA History

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    14 Jun 1995:  Center Shaquille O''Neal of the Orlando Magic (left) and Houston Rockets forward Hakeem Olajuwon look on after Game Four of the NBA Finals at the Summit in Houston, Texas.  The Rockets won the game, 113-101. Mandatory Credit: Allsport  /Alls
    Getty Images/Getty Images

    It isn't even draft day yet. The NBA Finals just wrapped up last week. NBA fans are facing a long offseason with the possibility of a lockout.

    While owners and players squabble over contracts, let's look back at the players that have made this league a must-watch since its inception. Here is my list of the seven greatest centers of all time. What's yours?

Honorable Mention: Dwight Howard

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    BOSTON, MA - JANUARY 17:  Dwight Howard #12 of the Orlando Magic reacts to a call in the first quarter as they take on the Boston Celtics on January 17, 2011 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees
    Elsa/Getty Images

    Dwight Howard isn't an all-time great center yet, but he's still only 25 years old. This guy should dominate the center position for at least another five years and that is plenty of time to add to an already impressive resume, which includes three back-to-back Defensive Player of the Year awards and five All-Star appearances.

    He's in a class of his own at the center position right now. Also, do you know how hard it is to be that buff at an NBA-listed height of 6'11"?

7. David Robinson

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    9 Nov 1999: David Robinson #50 of the San Antonio Spurs walks on the court with teammate Tim Duncan #21during a game against the Golden State Warriors at the Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, California. The Spurs defeated the Warriors 118-89.  Mandatory Credi
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    The Credentials

    Two-time NBA champion

    The Accolades

    One MVP award, 10-time All-Star, Rookie of the Year award

    Robinson did everything well. He was a great basket defender with the offensive game to match. He spent his entire 14-year career with the San Antonio Spurs. Once out of the Navy, Robinson helped the Spurs win 35 more games than they had the previous year without him.

    David Robinson was finally able to win a championship with the help of Tim Duncan after the lockout-shortened 1998-1999 season. They'd win again after the 2002-2003 season and that would be Robinson's last year in the league.

6. Moses Malone

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    INGLEWOOD, CA - 1988:  Moses Malone #2 of the Atlanta Hawks stands on the court during a NBA game against the Los Angeles Lakers at the Great Western Forum in Inglewood, California in 1988.  (Photo by Mike Powell/Getty Images)
    Mike Powell/Getty Images

    The Credentials

    One-time NBA champion, No. 7 all-time scorer, No. 5 all-time rebounder

    The Accolades

    Three MVP awards, 12-time All-Star, one Finals MVP award

    Moses Malone was a rebounding machine. He averaged 12.2 a game in his long career. He was a great offensive weapon as well. Malone was never afraid of contact and is second in made free throws behind only Karl Malone.

    Moses Malone wasn't the biggest center in the league at 6'10", but he made his presence felt with a combination of grit and a high basketball IQ.

5. Shaquille O'Neal

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    8 Jun 2001:  Kobe Bryant #8 and Shaquille O''Neal #34 of the Los Angeles Lakers in game two of the NBA Finals against the Philadelphia 76ers at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.  The Lakers won 98-89.  DIGITAL IMAGE.  Mandatory Credit: Jed Jacobs
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    The Credentials

    Four-time NBA champion, 15-time All-Star, three Finals MVP awards, No. 5 all-time scorer

    The Accolades

    One MVP award, three-time Finals MVP, Rookie of the Year

    The most recent retiree on this list, Shaq dominated the center position for almost 20 years. With one of the greatest rookie seasons of all time, he made an immediate impact on the game and never looked back.

    Shaq is one of the most physically talented players to ever play in the NBA. Always outspoken, Shaq has said that he's looking for work as an NBA commentator. I'm sure we all can't wait until then. Kobe probably can.

4. Wilt Chamberlain

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    7 Feb 1997:  Former Los Angeles Laker Wilt Chamberlain addresses the media at a press conference before the NBA All-Star Game at the Renaissance Hotel in Cleveland, Ohio. Mandatory Credit: Brian Bahr  /Allsport
    Brian Bahr/Getty Images

    The Credentials

    Two-time NBA champion, 13-time All-Star, No. 1 all-time rebounder,  No. 4 all-time scorer

    The Accolades

    Four MVP awards, one Finals MVP, Rookie of the Year

    The numbers don't tell the whole story but they don't lie either. He holds a number of the most unbreakable records in NBA history. He even led the league in assists once.

3. Hakeem Olajuwon

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    5 Nov 1996:  Center Hakeem Olajuwon of the Houston Rockets waits to enter the game during the Rockets 102-80 win over the Sacramento Kings at Arco Arena in Sacramento, California.  Mandatory Credit:  Otto Gruele/Allsport
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    The Credentials

    Two-time NBA champion, 12-time All-Star, No. 9 all-time scorer

    The Accolades

    One MVP award, two-time Finals MVP

    Hakeem Olajuwon had some of the most spectacular post moves we've ever seen. He played MVP-caliber basketball at both ends of the floor. He's the all-time leader in blocked shots for a reason.

    He rose to the occasion and played his best basketball in the playoffs, that and Michael Jordan's retirement helped Olajuwon and the Rockets win two NBA championships in the mid-'90s.

2. Bill Russell

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    WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 15:  Former Boston Celtics captain Bill Russell (L) is presented with the 2010 Medal of Freedom by U.S. President Barack Obama during an East Room event at the White House February 15, 2011 in Washington, DC. Obama presented the
    Alex Wong/Getty Images

    The Credentials

    11-time NBA champion, 12-time All-Star, No. 2 all-time rebounder

    The Accolades

    Five MVP awards

    Bill Russell has more championship rings than he has fingers. Russell and the Celtics dominated the league. They won 11 championships in 13 years. He was a defensive monster first and foremost. Russell patrolled the paint with an authority.

    Russell spent his entire career with the Celtics. He was a player who wanted to win and had the size, basketball IQ and will to do so. Russell even went on to win two championships as a coach in the league.

1. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

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    LOS ANGELES - 1988:  Kareem Abdul-Jabbar #33 of the Los Angeles Lakers dribbles the ball during an NBA game at the Great Western Forum in Los Angeles, California in 1988. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    The Credentials

    Six-time NBA champion, 19-time All-Star, No. 1 all-time scorer, No. 3 all-time rebounder

    The Accolades

    Six MVP awards, one Finals MVP

    When Kareem Abdul-Jabbar stepped out on the court, other players knew it was coming. They just couldn't do anything about it. Abdul-Jabbar's skyhook was a masterpiece and it helped him score the most points in NBA history.

    He also holds the record for most All-Star appearances and most MVP awards. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar deserves his statue at Staples Center and the spot as the greatest center of all time.