Best Centers in NBA History

The Top Ten
1 Wilt Chamberlain Wilton Norman "Wilt" Chamberlain was an American basketball player. He was born on August 21, 1936 in Philadelphia and died on October 12, 1999 in Los Angeles due to heart failure... read more

Only 6 other players have had a 30/30 game, with 30 points and 30 rebounds, and none have done it more than once. While Wilt did it over 100 times. No other player has had even one 40/40 game, and Wilt had 8 of them. And then there is Wilt's "Double-Triple-Double", where he had 20/20/20, which again no other player has ever done. Blocks were not recorded officially during his career, but in his final year, the NBA was doing a few "test" games, and he had 26 blocks. Simply the GOAT- Greatest Of All Time.

Anyone who thinks Chamberlain wasn't the greatest basketball player of all time not just center simply hasn't checked the numbers. Bill Russell who supposedly had Wilt's number managed to hold him to 40 points 28 rebounds who knows how many blocks they didn't count them and 12 assists avg. in their games. He would've fouled shaq out in the first quarter. He'd have averaged a triple double for a career if not quadruple if they kept all the stats.

2 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is an American retired professional basketball player who played 20 seasons in the National Basketball Association for the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers.

Kareem (the player formerly known as Lew) and his Bucks stopped the greatest NBA winning streak. People say Kareem was young and Wilt was old, but really, Wilt, a veteran center, was outplayed by a 2nd-year player. Kareem had Magic and Oscar (each never got a ring without Kareem), but Wilt had Jerry "the NBA logo" West and Gail Goodrich at the same time. Kareem didn't just change the rules (like the NCAA not allowing dunking) but he changed the way big men trained and conditioned. Not just the greatest center, but the greatest player of all time.

3 Hakeem Olajuwon Hakeem Abdul Olajuwon, formerly known as Akeem Olajuwon, is a Nigerian-American retired professional basketball player.

He improved in the playoffs, while Wilt and Kareem got worse statistically.

He outplayed all Hall of Fame centers during his prime in the postseason, including Kareem in '86, Parish in '86, Ewing in '94, Robinson in '95, and Shaq in '95.

He is better than Russell defensively because he was a much better stealer, man defender (Wilt regularly destroyed him), and perimeter defender.

Russell also has an inflated defensive presence due to favorable rules, like a smaller lane to patrol, no three-second rule, stacked teams, lesser competition (athletically, skill-wise, and economically), shorter playoff runs to a championship, and one of the greatest coaches of all time in Red Auerbach. Olajuwon had no such advantages and is still close to Russell in defensive presence, which is why he is better overall.

He is the greatest two-way center of all time and has absolutely no weakness in his game.

4 Shaquille O'Neal Shaquille Rashaun O'Neal, nicknamed Shaq, is a retired American professional basketball player who is currently an analyst on the television program Inside the NBA. He is known for his fun, friendly personality, and is one of the most beloved athletes of all time.

If every NBA player in their primes lined up, and you could get the first pick to put one person on your team, you'd be a fool not to pick Shaquille O'Neal. No better teammate in the history of basketball. Who would you be more comfortable hitting the court with and being yourself, playing your game, knowing a guy like Shaq has your back... Nobody.

If Shaq played in the bad boys era or earlier, he probably would have legally taken out a few people on the court. Not to mention, he was so dominant they started allowing zone defense. Without zone defense, he would have been even more dominant!

5 Bill Russell William Felton "Bill" Russell was an American retired professional basketball player. Russell played center for the Boston Celtics of the National Basketball Association from 1956 to 1969.

Russell should be #1 because he was way more committed to the game than Wilt and Shaq ever will be. His defense would slaughter Kareem and would match up well with Hakeem. He was a very elite defensive leader and, unlike Shaq and Wilt, cared more about his team than the media. Russell wasn't known for his offense but could score in the post if he wanted to.

You people underestimate the skill of Bill Russell. He was the best shot-blocker in NBA history and he has the most rings in NBA history. He is so much better than Kareem and Shaq. Russell should be in the top three.

6 David Robinson David Maurice Robinson is an American former professional basketball player, who played center for the San Antonio Spurs in the National Basketball Association for his entire career.

David Robinson was so amazing. Now, this guy has the heart of a true champion. There's been just a handful of people that can carry their team on their shoulders, and David is most known to have done that throughout his career. Very successful person, high achiever, left a big hole in the NBA when he retired.

More speed and agility than people gave him credit for. Absolutely dominant on both ends of the court. Excellent on and off the court.

Love his game, and I'm not even a Spurs fan! No one brings up his name in conversation when debating the best bigs of all time. Such a shame!

7 Moses Malone Moses Eugene Malone was an American basketball player who played in both the American Basketball Association and the National Basketball Association from 1974 through 1995. The center was named the NBA Most Valuable Player three times and was a 12-time NBA All-Star and an eight-time All-NBA selection... read more

His only issue was that he played on so many teams, so he doesn't get much credit. The man finished in the top ten in scoring seven times and in the top ten in rebounds ten times. He was simply a consistent machine.

Moses Malone is one of the greatest to play in the NBA.

8 Patrick Ewing Patrick Aloysius Ewing (born August 5, 1962) is a Jamaican-American retired Hall of Fame basketball player and current head coach of the Georgetown University men's basketball team.

I have to say, this guy has a good three-point shot that was pretty much accurate. He's just missing a championship ring, but he was so close against Olajuwon in 1994. He was owned by the Dream Shake.

Ewing was awesome. Very underrated. Carried a very offensively mediocre team on his back for 15 years. Took the Knicks to the second round or further nine years in a row (maybe 10).

Very productive big and I liked his jumper! It was probably the best from a center. He played with the Knicks and never won a title, which prevents him from being in the top five in most people's eyes.

9 George Mikan George Lawrence Mikan Jr., nicknamed Mr. Basketball, was an American professional basketball player for the Chicago American Gears of the National Basketball League and the Minneapolis Lakers of the NBL, the Basketball Association of America and the National Basketball Association.
10 Yao Ming Yao Ming is a Chinese basketball executive and retired professional basketball player who played for the Shanghai Sharks of the Chinese Basketball Association and the Houston Rockets of the National Basketball Association.

Yao Ming is such a great player. See him play against other tall centers, he can dominate.

Seriously? He should be on the top-10 list! He shut down Shaq in their every matchup.

The Newcomers

? Alperen Sengun
? Chet Holmgren
The Contenders
11 Bill Walton

Injuries (foot) were the bane of this phenom. Kareem once referred to him as Dr. Scholl.

12 Tim Duncan Timothy Theodore "Tim" Duncan is an American professional basketball player who has played his entire career for the San Antonio Spurs of the National Basketball Association.

In the discussion for G.O.A.T.! A career and approach to the game that may never be matched by a player of the same position.

13 Dwight Howard Dwight David Howard is an American professional basketball player for the Washington Wizards of the National Basketball Association.
14 Nikola Jokic Nikola Jokić is a Serbian professional basketball player for the Denver Nuggets of the National Basketball Association.
15 Dikembe Mutombo

Defensively, he was a god, like Hakeem and Bill Russell!
Four-time defensive player of the year, baby!

He was a beast in his prime but not that good afterward.

He is #2 on the all-time blocks list!

16 Tyson Chandler Tyson Cleotis Chandler is an American professional basketball player for the Phoenix Suns of the National Basketball Association.
17 Arvydas Sabonis

Greatest center of all time.
Best passing big ever, excellent shooter, killer post-game and oh yeah, he was 7'3".

A shooting guard in the body of a center. Best center to ever step out of Europe.

If not for the Cold War and injuries, he would have been the best of the best.

18 Ben Wallace Ben Camey Wallace is an American retired professional basketball player. A native of Alabama, Wallace attended Cuyahoga Community College and Virginia Union University and signed with the Washington Bullets as an undrafted free agent in 1996. In his NBA career, Wallace played with the Washington Bullets/Wizards,... read more
19 Robert Parish

I see five or six guys listed ahead of Chief that should not be. He was a champion more often than most of the centers listed ahead of him. He may have been the third option on offense but made big contributions during the years the Celtics won titles. He faced many of the top centers in history when he played and held his own.

The Chief did everything well. Great at the goal, defender, and was a dependable scorer in the post. Would have had better stats if not for Bird and McHale. He made the perfect Celtic.

20 Alonzo Mourning

Because he's behind players like Tyson Chandler, Yao Ming, and Bill Walton? Those guys aren't better than Zo. Nor are they better than Dikembe.

21 Joel Embiid Joel Hans Embiid is a Cameroonian professional basketball player for the Philadelphia 76ers of the National Basketball Association.
22 Willis Reed

Seeing him in his prime against the top centers (whether in playoffs or not) should convince anyone of his greatness.

23 Bob Pettit Robert Lee Pettit Jr. is an American retired professional basketball player. He played 11 seasons in the NBA.

One of the earlier stars, Russell had placed him on his all-time team.

24 JaVale McGee JaVale Lindy McGee is an American professional basketball player for the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association.
25 DeMarcus Cousins DeMarcus Amir Cousins is an American professional basketball player for the Sacramento Kings of the National Basketball Association.
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