Best Centers in NBA History

Beast of in the paint. Monster in the glass. A dominant force in the inside.

Those are the words you first think when the word “NBA center” is said to you. So, to complete off our list, here are the best of the best when it comes to dominating the paint.

Sports Blog Catalog brings you, the best Centers in NBA history.

Greatest Centers in History

Coming off number 5 on the list. We all know this guy for his sheer power and size. He was so unstoppable during his prime that NBA needed to change up their rules just to make things fair for everyone.

The Diesel, Shaqfu, Shaqtus are just some of his many names.

Shaquille O’neal

Shaquille Oneal
The Man With The Million Names, Shaq.

Career Average: 23.7 ppg, 10.9 rpg, 2.3 bpg

If you grew up during the 90’s, you know why Shaquille is on this list.

A lot of people consider him to be the most dominant center who ever played the game and rightfully so.

Once you got the ball in the low post with him, it’s automatic due to his enormous three dimensional size. He’s fast compared to other big men during his era. Making him a mismatch nightmare for any team.

The KobeShaq combo managed to pull off a three-peat in the tough late 90’s and early 00’s era. Making them one of the best tandems to play in all NBA history.

If not for his notorious reputation of being a poor free throw shooter, he must’ve scored an additional 5,000 points or more. Even with that, he’s inducted in the Hall of Fame so it’s just natural for any list to have this guy on their top 10.

Career Achievements:

  • 4× NBA champion (2000–2002, 2006)
  • 3× NBA Finals MVP (2000–2002)
  • NBA Most Valuable Player (2000)
  • 15× NBA All-Star (1993–1998, 2000–2007, 2009)
  • 3× NBA All-Star Game MVP (2000, 2004, 2009)
  • 8× All-NBA First Team (1998, 2000–2006)
  • 2× All-NBA Second Team (1995, 1999)
  • 4× All-NBA Third Team (1994, 1996, 1997, 2009)
  • 3× NBA All-Defensive Second Team (2000, 2001, 2003)
  • NBA Rookie of the Year (1993)
  • 2× NBA scoring champion (1995, 2000)

Our Number 4 guys on the list is primarily known for his killer pump fakes and his famous “Dream Shake”. A real smooth operator, Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon.

Hakeem Olajuwon

Hakeem Olajuwon
Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon

Career Average: 21.8 ppg, 11.1 rpg, 3.1 bpg

Personally, I think Olajuwon is the most skilled big man that has ever played in the NBA. Just look at his amazing footwork, mid range shooting and low post presence. It’s just simply astounding.

He led the Houston Rockets to a back-to-back championship, one being the 6th seed in the West.  Their lineup doesn’t seem powerful enough, but they managed to do the impossible.

We will all remember his patented “Dream Shake” with David Robinson. Also with Shaquille. The man even challenged him to a 1 on 1 pickup game match because Olajuwon just simply wrecked him in the Finals.

No one can copy his style. He also belongs to the few men to say that they achieved a quadruple-double in the NBA.

Career Achievements:

  • 2× NBA champion (1994, 1995)
  • 2× NBA Finals MVP (1994, 1995)
  • NBA Most Valuable Player (1994)
  • 12× NBA All-Star (1985–1990, 1992–1997)
  • 6× All-NBA First Team (1987–1989, 1993, 1994, 1997)
  • 3× All-NBA Second Team (1986, 1990, 1996)
  • 3× All-NBA Third Team (1991, 1995, 1999)
  • 2× NBA Defensive Player of the Year (1993, 1994)
  • 5× NBA All-Defensive First Team (1987, 1988, 1990, 1993, 1994)
  • 4× NBA All-Defensive Second Team (1985, 1991, 1996, 1997)
  • NBA All-Rookie First Team (1985)
  • 2x NBA rebounding leader (1989, 1990)
  • 3× NBA blocks leader (1990, 1991, 1993)

The number three spots belong to NBA’s top scorer, ever and known for his unblockable “Skyhook”. The Cap, Kareem Abdul Jabbar.

Kareem Abdul Jabbar

Kareem Abdul Jabbar
The Master of the Skyhook, Kareem.

Career Average: 24.6 ppg, 11.2 rpg, 2.5 bpg

Formerly known as Lew Alcindor, Kareem Abdul Jabbar is known for his signature “Skyhook” and his stints with the best point guards in the league with Oscar Robertson and Magic Johnson.

His longevity is unbelievable for a big man that’s known for crashing the boards and posting up giant opponents.

What people loved about him is his leadership. He won multiple MVP awards and All Star appearances, holding the record for the two.

His decline during the dawn of his career didn’t seem to affect the Lakers that much and still managed to give a good fight with the star-studded Boston Celtics team of the 80’s.

Career Achievements:

  • 6× NBA champion (1971, 1980, 1982, 1985, 1987, 1988)
  • 2× NBA Finals MVP (1971, 1985)
  • 6× NBA Most Valuable Player (1971, 1972, 1974, 1976, 1977, 1980)
  • 19× NBA All-Star (1970–1977, 1979–1989)
  • 10× All-NBA First Team (1971–1974, 1976, 1977, 1980, 1981, 1984, 1986)
  • 5× All-NBA Second Team (1970, 1978, 1979, 1983, 1985)
  • 5× NBA All-Defensive First Team (1974, 1975, 1979–1981)
  • 6× NBA All-Defensive Second Team (1970, 1971, 1976–1978, 1984)
  • NBA Rookie of the Year (1970)
  • 2× NBA scoring champion (1971, 1972)
  • NBA rebounding champion (1976)
  • 4× NBA blocks leader (1975, 1976, 1979, 1980)

On our number 2 spot, is the greatest winner in all basketball history with him leading the ruthless Boston Celtics dynasty in the 50’s and 60’s. Bill Russell.

Bill Russell

bill russell
Winning=Bill Russell

Career Average: 15.1 ppg, 22.5 rpg, 4.3 apg

If you say the words “defensive big man”, the name Bill Russell might be the next words that you will utter.

He’s the captain of the one of the most dominant teams ever assembled in NBA History, the 50’s and 60’s Boston Celtics. This man won the NBA championship for 11 times, unbelievable.

There are stories that Russell blocked more than 10 shots a game during his peak, sadly this was not recorded on the scoreboards at that time.

He’s the first African-American coach in a major sports league too if you will count that as an achievement.

Career Achievements:

  • 11× NBA champion (1957, 1959–1966, 1968, 1969)
  • 5× NBA Most Valuable Player (1958, 1961–1963, 1965)
  • 12× NBA All-Star (1958–1969)
  • NBA All-Star Game MVP (1963)
  • 3× All-NBA First Team (1959, 1963, 1965)
  • 8× All-NBA Second Team (1958, 1960–1962, 1964, 1966–1968)
  • NBA All-Defensive First Team (1969)
  • 4× NBA rebounding champion (1958, 1959, 1964, 1965)

Before we go down to the best, here are some names that are worth mentioning.

And the best center that has ever played in the NBA would be;

Wilt Chamberlain

wilt chamberlain
“The Big Dipper”, Wilt Chamberlain

Career Average: 30.1 ppg, 22.9 rpg, 4.4 apg

Just look at his stats and you will know why we put Wilt “The Stilt” in the number 1 spot on this list.

Talk about dominance in the 50’s. This guy averaged 50.4 ppg and 25.7 rpg in the regular season. He still holds the most records in the NBA up to this day.

Wilt is just unnatural. He’s a freak of nature. A lot of rules was changed because he was so dominant. For example, due to his notoriously poor free throw shooting, he dunked the ball from the free throw line just to make a basket. They changed that. That’s how huge Wilt’s impact is in the world of basketball.

He’s also known for sleeping with 20,000 women during his lifetime. He died as a bachelor, sadly. But his legacy still lives on.

Career Achievements:

  • 2× NBA champion (1967, 1972)
  • NBA Finals MVP (1972)
  • 4× NBA Most Valuable Player (1960, 1966–1968)
  • 13× NBA All-Star (1960–1969, 1971–1973)
  • NBA All-Star Game MVP (1960)
  • 7× All-NBA First Team (1960–1962, 1964, 1966–1968)
  • 3× All-NBA Second Team (1963, 1965, 1972)
  • 2× NBA All-Defensive First Team (1972, 1973)
  • NBA Rookie of the Year (1960)
  • 7× NBA scoring champion (1960–1966)
  • 11× NBA rebounding champion (1960–1963, 1966–1969, 1971–1973)
  • NBA assists leader (1968)

Do you agree with this list? Put your comments below and I’ll see you next time for more action-packed sports countdowns.

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