Rob/Brumbygg’s take on the Top Centers of All Time…
10: Bill Walton – due to injuries Walton didn’t play all that much over his 10 year NBA career and his numbers don’t stack up against many of the greats. However, he won a title with a no-name brand Portland team as well as a second with the 86 Celtics. Walton was one of the more technically gifted Centers with a great understanding of the game. Something that continues to be demonstrated in the announcing booth – if you can make sense of what he is saying!
9: Patrick Ewing – twice NBA finalist, no championships. Despite his lack of titles Ewing is deserving of a place on this list. A great defensive player (despite always being in foul trouble) Ewing could score too. Should have won a title in 94 against the Rockets, but John Starks’ all-time Game 7 bomb ensured that Patrick would go home empty handed.
8: David Robinson – Before the Twin Towers there was just The Admiral. A 7 feet 1 almost unstoppable juggernaut, who could hit the mid-range jumper or take you to the hole. Needed Timmy D to make it to the next level with the Spurs, but still an outstanding player in his own right. His career numbers would have been even more impressive if he hadn’t completed his 2 year Navy commitment.
7: George Mikan – George Mikan forced the NBA to bring in 24 second shot clock, widened the lane from 6 feet to 12 feet and established goaltending rules. Oh, and he won 7 titles! “Without 99 (Mikan), there is no me” – Shaquille O’Neal.
6: Moses Malone – After anyone who played for the Celtics, Moses Malone was my favourite player to watch in the late 70s and 80s. Played on a great 76ers team in 83 with Dr J, Andrew Toney and Mo Cheeks to win his only championship. A beast, a workhorse and almost guaranteed 20 and 10 double-double every night. Also shot free throws at 76% over his career – stats that Shaq could only dream of!
5: Hakeem Olajuwon – If Hakeem had been a foot shorter he would have been one of the best PGs the game has ever seen! His agility, ball handling skills and speed enabled him to blow past his opponents with ridiculous ease. A great defender with an astounding career steals total. Houston’s Dream, certainly David Robinson’s nightmare!
4: Shaquille O’Neal – Proved that you can be big, but also athletic. Shaq’s ability to dominate a game was incredible. Trips to the finals with 3 teams and has 4 championships. Had his ego not been as big as his body, he could have ended up with even more titles. Oh, and maybe if he had worked on his free throws a little!
3: Wilt Chamberlain – Statistically the best Center to ever play the game with career averages of 30ppg and 23rpg, the only player to average over 40ppg in a season or to drop 100 points in a game. Wilt ranks here for me because of the stats over the titles.
2: Bill Russell – 11 titles in a 13 year career! The best defensive center to ever play the game, who revolutionised the ways teams played defense. Blessed with great speed and agility, Russell averaged 22 rebounds per game over his career. No one defines the term ‘winner’ better than Bill Russell.
1: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – The cranky, always scowling, old Kareem at the end of his career is not the guy who dominated the league for so long. Kareem was a high school legend, a college superstar and the best Centre to grace the hardwood in the history of the NBA. 6 titles, 6 MVPs, all-time leading points scorer and owner of one of the most beautiful and unstoppable shots the game has ever seen – the skyhook. As a Celtics guy, Kareem was the most-hated Laker in the 80s, but it came with a lot of (grudging) respect.