The Greatest Centers

The Center

The Greatest Centers

The center, colloquially known as the five or the big man, is one of the standard positions in a regulation basketball game and is commonly abbreviated “C”. The center is normally the tallest player on the team and often has a great deal of strength and body mass as well. In many cases, the center’s primary role is to use his or her size to score and defend from a position close to the basket. A center that possesses size along with athleticism and skill constitutes an unparalleled asset for a team. The centers are also generally the players who are chosen to take jump balls. Centers are among the leaders in blocks and rebounds and are said to “anchor” defenses. It is common for centers to roam the paint and block a high number of shots, especially when their man does not have the ball.


Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is not only the greatest collegiate basketball player, but also the greatest center in NBA history. Most would argue that he is the greatest basketball player of all-time. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is all-time leading scorer in points scored with 38,387 thanks to his unstoppable trademark shot, the sky-hook. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s contributions were a key component in the “Showtime” era of LA Lakers basketball during the 1980s. He is a six-time NBA champion, a two-time NBA Finals MVP, a six-time NBA Most Valuable Player, and 19-time NBA All-Star. In 2012, he was selected by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to be a U.S. global cultural ambassador.


Bill Russell

Bill Russell

Bill Russell is the only 11-time NBA champion in the league’s history, which makes him the ultimate winner. He has enough rings to put on all of his ten fingers and one toe. Bill Russell was the centerpiece of the Boston Celtics dynasty during the 1960s. He was also the player-coach for the Celtics the last three years of his career, and they won two championships during that span. Bill Russell is one of only seven players in history to achieve basketball’s “Triple Crown” – winning an NCAA Championship, an NBA Championship, and an Olympic Gold Medal. Bill Russell is a five-time NBA Most Valuable Player, 12-time NBA All-Star, and the 1963 NBA All-Star MVP. In 2009, the NBA announced that the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player trophy would be named the Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award in honor of Bill Russell.


Wilt Chamberlain

Wilt Chamberlain

Wilt Chamberlain was the original “Superman” in the NBA. Considered the most dominant player in NBA history, Wilt Chamberlain holds numerous NBA records in scoring, rebounding, and durability categories. He is the only player to score 100 points in a single NBA game or average more than 40 and 50 points in a season. Wilt Chamberlain is also the only player to average at least 30 points and 20 rebounds per game over the entire course of his NBA career. He is a two-time NBA champion, the 1972 NBA Finals MVP, four-time NBA Most Valuable Player, and a 13-time NBA All-Star.


“The Diesel” Shaq

Shaquille O'Neal

Shaq was the most physically dominant player in the NBA from 2000 to 2002. Nicknamed “The Diesel”, he was the biggest and strongest player in the league during his prime. What he lacked in skill, he made up with strength and raw power. Shaquille O’Neal led the LA Lakers to three straight NBA championships in 2000, 2001, and 2002. His individual accolades include the 1999–2000 MVP award, the 1992–93 NBA Rookie of the Year award, 15 All-Star game selections, three All-Star Game MVP awards, three Finals MVP awards, two scoring titles, 14 All-NBA team selections, and three NBA All-Defensive Team selections. He is one of only three players to win NBA MVP, All-Star game MVP and Finals MVP awards in the same year (2000).

By Shamarie Knight, 12th Jun 2015


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