The Best Centers in Basketball History Of All Time: Top 10

Best Centers in Basketball History: The center position was, for decades, the most emblematic in basketball thanks to legendary figures who occupied it and who dominated the NBA and the sport internationally. The combination of height, physique, and skills has made these giants throughout history become protagonists of dynasties and entire eras of basketball.

Sadly, in the current era, that big, imposing figure in the paint hasn’t emerged, but teams are always on the lookout for that player who is unstoppable because of his physical advantage.

10 Best Centers in Basketball History

From the era of Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain to Shaquille O’Neal as the great center of the 21st century, let’s see who has been, in no specific order. Here are the Best Centers in Basketball History.

10. Patrick Ewing

  • Nickname: Big Pat
  • Year of birth: 1962
  • Games: 1183
  • Points: 24815 (average 21 per game)
  • Rebounds: 11,607 ( 9.8avg )
  • Assists: 2215 (1.9 avg)

Born in the capital of Jamaica, Kingston, in 1962. As a child, he moved to the United States, where he was selected in the 1985 draft at number 1 by the New York Knicks. He spent almost his entire career in it, but in 2000 Patrick was traded to the Seattle SuperSonics. 

Since then, the Knicks have failed to become a competitive force in the league. Two-time Olympic champion – in 1984 as a student and in 1992 already as a professional.

9. Robert Parish

  • Nickname: The Chief
  • Year of birth: 1953
  • Games: 1611
  • Points: 23334 (14.5 per game)
  • Rebounds: 14,715 (9.1 avg)
  • Assists: 2180 (1.4avg)

The future “Leader” was born in 1953 in Shreveport. He was selected 8th overall by the Golden State Warriors in 1976. But he achieved the greatest success (three association titles) with the Boston Celtics, playing there from 1980 to 1994. 

He won his fourth title at the end of his career with the Chicago Bulls in 1997. He received the nickname “Leader” for his leadership qualities and unbending character. He performed under the exotic number 00, which is assigned to him forever in Boston.

8. Hakim Olajuwon

  • Nickname: Dream
  • Year of birth: 1963
  • Games: 1238
  • Points: 26946 (21.8 avg)
  • Rebounds: 13,747 (11.1 avg)
  • Assists: 3058 2.5avg)

The Nigerian center was born in Lagos in 1964. As a schoolboy, he moved to the United States, wherein the first season he led his student team to the finals of the NAKA tournament.

The Houston Rockets selected him first overall in the draft. The bet on Hakim paid off: before that, the middle peasant in the NBA, in 1994 and 1995, he won two champion titles. The powerful center reigned in the league under both shields, collecting a lot of rebounds and allowing not only effective attacks for the whole team but also a few passes.

7. Shaquille O’Neal

  • Nickname: Shaq, Big Daddy, Diesel
  • Year of birth: 1972
  • Games: 1207
  • Points: 28596 (23.7 avg)
  • Rebounds: 13,099 (10.9 avg)
  • Assists: 3026 (2.5avg)

The most powerful center was born in Newark in 1972. The Orlando Magic selected him first overall in the draft. Over the years of his career, he has changed many well-known clubs, as part of two (Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat) he became the NBA champion four times. 

Shaquille was impressed, first of all, with his dimensions, which he very skillfully used not only to score points, protect his own shield but also competently set up barriers for his partners.

6. David Robinson

  • Nickname: Admiral
  • Year of birth: 1965
  • Games: 987
  • Points: 20790 (21.1 avg)
  • Rebounds: 10,497 (10.6 avg)
  • Assists: 2441 (2.5avg)

Born in 1965 in Key West, in 1987 he was selected under the overall first number of the San Antonio Spurs and played all the games in this club. He helped the team become champions twice and was instrumental in the development of another star player, Tim Duncan. 

He played three times at the Olympics and won two victories. He received the nickname “Admiral” for his studies, he studied at the Naval College and subsequent service in the Navy.

5. Bill Walton

  • Nickname: Big Red Head
  • Year of birth: 1952
  • Games: 468
  • Points: 6215 (13.3 per game)
  • Rebounds: 4,923 ( 10.5avg)
  • Assists: 1590 3.4avg)

Born in 1952 in La Mesa, California. He was selected by the Portland Trail Blazers in the 1974 NHL Entry Draft as No. 1. And in 1977, Bill helped them become league champions. 

The player won his second title in the stellar composition of the Celtics in 1986. He had a good understanding of the game and a choice of position, which allowed him to win rebounds and distribute passes to partners, making Walton a versatile center.

4. George Miken

  • Nickname: Mr. Basketball
  • Year of birth: 1924
  • Year of death: 2005
  • Games: 439
  • Points: 10156 (23.1 avg)
  • Rebounds: 4,167 ( 9.5avg )
  • Assists: 1245 (2.8avg)

Born in Joliet in 1924. Over the years, he played in various professional leagues and won the league title seven times. George owns a unique achievement – because of him, the rules of basketball were changed three times:

They increased the three-second zone, introduced a time limit for the team’s attack and the rule according to which, if the ball is above the hoop of the ring and has passed the highest point of its trajectory, then it cannot be knocked down, or the attacking team scores points if the ball is knocked down. In fact, it was with George Miken that modern basketball began.

3. Kareem Abdul Jabbar

  • Nickname: Lew, Cap, Murdock
  • Year of birth: 1947
  • Games: 1560
  • Points: 38387 (24.6 avg)
  • Rebounds: 17,440 ( 11.2 avg)
  • Assists: 5660 (3.6avg)

Born Lew Alcindor in 1947 in New York. In 1969, the City of Milwaukee spent their overall first draft pick on a rookie and in 1971 won the championship for it. In the same year, Lew Alcindor turns into Kareem Abdul-Jabbar after converting to Islam. 

He won his other five titles with the Lakers. Inventor of the skyhook throw, when a basketball player raises a high curved hand on the hoop and drives the ball in from above. For a long time, it was impossible to resist such a throw, and Karim terrified the opponent’s defense.

2. Bill Russell

  • Nickname: Bill
  • Year of birth: 1934
  • Games: 963
  • Points: 14522 (15.1 per game)
  • Rebounds: 21,620 (22.5 avg)
  • Assists: 4100 (4.3 avg.)

Born in 1934 in West Monroe, in 1956, the St. Louis Hawks was selected in the draft under the second number but was immediately traded to the Boston Celtics. That was Coach Auerbach’s plan. 

The thing is that the Bostonians had a low seeding in the draft and could not get Russell. I had to give away a lot of players, but the calculation was justified. 11 NBA titles put Russell at an unattainable height in the history of North American sports. In terms of the number of titles, only hockey player Henri Richard from Montreal is next.

1. Will Chamberlain

  • Nickname: Wilt the Stilt, the Big Dipper
  • Year of birth: 1936
  • Year of death: 1999
  • Games: 1045
  • Points: 31419 (30.1 avg )
  • Rebounds: 23,924 (22.9 avg )
  • Assists: 4,643 (4.4 avg.)

Born in 1936 in Philadelphia. It is with the team from this city that the championship in 1967 is associated. The second title was won in 1972 with the Los Angeles Lakers. 100 points in one game, the record holder for the total number of rebounds and in one game. And one of the most unfortunate players. 

Wilt’s playing career peaked during the dominance years of the Boston Celtics, where Bill Russell had the backing of an all-star team. Statistical records were not supported by titles, and the second championship went to the end of a career.

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