10 Best Centers in Basketball History

Choosing the 10 best centers in basketball history isn't easy. There were so many great big men that have guarded that paint, that narrowing it down to the ten best was a difficult feat.

  1. Nate Thurmond The perfect combination of speed, agility, defensive prowess, and offensive ability at the center position—Nate Thurmond played for fourteen seasons (1963 to 1977) in the NBA. At 6' 11", 235 lbs he was the prototype big man with a deadly jumper. This seven time all-star rivaled Bill Russell defensively and was able to contain Wilt Chamberlain with Doberman-like intensity. He averaged a solid 15 points and a staggering 15 rebounds in 964 games.
  2. Patrick Ewing was the  7'0" defensive powerhouse was known has "Hoya Destroya" at Georgetown. Even more incredible was the development of his offensive talents as an NBA superstar. By the end of his seventeen-year career (1985 to 2002), Ewing was the New York Knicks' all-time leader in scoring (24,815), blocks (2,894), and rebounds (11,607). Never winning an NBA Championship himself, his Knicks tested the Chicago Bulls throughout the playoffs during the '90s. He gave the Houston Rockets hell in the 1994 NBA Finals. Ewing is not only one of the best centers in basketball history, he is one of the best basketball players to ever play the game.
  3. Shaq Dominating power incarnate is the best way to describe this  7'0", 325 lb behemoth. No center in the 1990's dominated the paint like the "Diesel", Shaquille O'neal.  He was like a grown man playing with children when he stepped on the court. His post maneuvers are awesome.  While playing at the NBA level for over 17 years since 1992, he's won four NBA titles ( three with the Lakers in 2000, 2001, 2002 and one with the Heat in 2006) cementing his place among the best centers in basketball history.
  4. David Robinson, the extraordinarily athletic and powerful 7'0" center played for he San Antonio Spurs from 1989 to 2003. Few players could handle his defensive abilities and even fewer centers could post his numbers.  He won NBA championshipt titles in 1999 and 2003. The ten time All-Star compiled an impressive 20,790 points, 2,954 blocks, 10,497 rebounds over his career. No best NBA centers list would be complete without Mr. Robinson.
  5. George Mikan From 1946 to 1956 George Mikan dominated every facet of the game. So much in fact, rules had to be changed to give others a fighting chance. This prototype center paved the way for all others.
  6. The Dream This guy had the quickness of a point-forward. Hakeem "The Dream"  Olajuwon had and endless array of quick maneuvers to fool people down low. He was equipped with a deadly jump shot and an unnatural ability for a center to face up his opponents and take them off the dribble.  Over his eighteen year career (1984 to 2002), he collected two NBA Championships (1994, 1995), two NBA Finals MVP awards (1994, 1995) 3,830 blocks, 13,748 rebounds, and 26,946 points.
  7. Moses Malone Basketball's Iron Man. Why is Moses Malone one of the 10 best centers in basketball history? In 49,444 minutes he grabbed 17,834 rebounds, 29,580 points, three MVP awards (1979,1982,1983) and an NBA Championship (1983). He was a beast defensively and a scoring monster!
  8. Bill Russell Really? Bill Russell? Do you have to ask why he's one of the 10 best centers in basketball history?  With 11 NBA titles in 13 seasons, it would be ridiculous not to include this Boston Celtic as one of the best centers ever. The epitome of a team player.  He sacrificed personal achievements for the team to win and still amassed 21,620 rebounds, 4,100 assists and 14,522 points in 963 games.
  9. Kareem Abdul Jabbar achieved more individual accolades than any other player, while at the same time elevating his teams to the top of the NBA for twenty years. Six NBA titles, nineteen all-star appearances…the list goes on. Lets not forget about his 38,387 points and 17,440 rebounds. Oh, we must mention the most unstoppable shot in all of basketball… the sky hook!
  10. Wilt Chamberlain was the most unstoppable force in basketball, ever! Try to beat 22.9 rebounds and 30.1 points a game in 1,045 games!!! He is the best center in basketball history, period.


Association of Professional Basketball Research

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