Though today’s era of NBA basketball is guard-centric, the game was once ruled by high-flying giants. Many of the league’s most exciting, entertaining, and unbelievable players throughout the years have played the Center position. In fact, the five best centers in the history of the NBA are separated by such a thin margin that each of them has a justifiable claim to the No.1 spot on the list.
The Big Dipper put up some of the gaudiest and utterly unbelievable numbers in the history of the league, the most significant of which was his 100-point performance against the Knicks. Unfortunately, though — for a player as dominant as he was — Wilt never got over the hump in terms of championship rings, often coming up short against his good friend and heated rival Bill Russell.
The combination of Shaq’s size, strength, quickness, and athleticism has never been seen before — and will likely never be seen again. Shaq dominated the game in a way reminiscent of Wilt Chamberlain, only against bigger, stronger, and better competition.
Considered by many to be the utmost best center in the history of the NBA — and for good reason — Kareem Abdul Jabbar was the architect of a unique and unstoppable shot the sport has ever seen: the sky hook. Kareem is, to this day, the NBA’s all-time leading scorer and earned a handful of championships as well. The footwork he demonstrated in the post could only be matched by the next big man on this list.
“The Dream” played in an era of some of the biggest, strongest, fastest, and most skilled big men the league has ever seen. In a league employing Patrick Ewing, Moses Malone, Dikembe Mutombo, David Robinson, and the aforementioned Shaquille O’Neal — each of whom would be the clear-cut best center in today’s league had they been born at a different time — Olajuwon rose to the top of the pack. Olajuwon was quicker than most point guards the sport has ever seen, let alone his 7-foot opponents. Led by his patented “Dream Shake”, a series of lightning-quick post moves that were impossible for defenders to keep up with, Olajuwon led his Houston Rockets to two NBA championships during the most competitive era the sport has seen.
1. Bill Russell
Often under-sold because of the lack of game footage available from his playing days, Bill Russell is basketball’s ultimate winner. With more championship rings than he has fingers, Bill Russell was a force to be reckoned with on both ends of the court, regularly swatting opponents’ shots and leading his team’s break all in the middle of the same play. Russell is noted for his defensive prowess — having been arguably the best defender in the league’s history — but his offense was dynamic and game-changing as well. Russell demonstrated ball-handling and passing abilities that are rarely seen from today’s quick, explosive point guards, let alone the tallest man on the court. Perhaps even more important than his work ethic on the court was what he did off the court as a Civil Rights leader in America.
Written by Bill Davis. Bill is a sports blogger and avid basket ball fan who likes to watch games at home wearing his favorite custom basketball jersey.
Photo Credits: Wikipedia
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