NBA: Top 10 Best Centers of All Time

When it comes to NBA history, centers have dominated the league like no other position. For many years, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, and Kareem Abdul Jabbar ruled the NBA.

Previously, a team could not win a championship without dominant centers. Similarly, centers have won the majority of NBA MVP awards.

Center positions have shifted dramatically over the last few decades. New generations of big men, however, are attempting to shift the balance of power back to the centers.

Join us as we determine who will be our greatest centers of all time.

NBA Hall of Famers

Who are the all-time great centers?

10. Bill Walton

Los Angeles Clippers, Portland Trail Blazers, and Boston Celtics

2 NBA Championships and 1 NBA MVP

Bill Walton is regarded as one of the NBA’s best team players and passing centers. He is one of the most complete centers in NBA history, capable of playmaking, scoring, and defending.

Despite early success, a foot injury cut short his career later on. During his playing career, he had 37 orthopedic operations.

Walton won the NBA championship and MVP award with the Blazers in 1978. Later in his career, he missed most of the seasons due to injuries and multiple surgeries.

In 1986, he won Sixth Man of the Year and his second championship while playing as Robert Parish’s backup center in Boston.

Walton finished his career with a double-double average of 13.3 points per game and 10.5 rebounds per game in 468 games. Walton was later inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1993.

9. George Mikan

Chicago, American Gears, and the Minnesota Lakers

5x BAA, 1x NBA Championship, and 1x NBA MVP

Mr. Basketball, George Mikan, is widely regarded as the NBA’s first true superstar.

Mikan’s unprecedented effort has resulted in the NBA becoming a multibillion-dollar franchise.

During the early NBA era, when money was tight, Mikan drew media attention, putting the league on the map.

He is the original Laker’s colossus and one of the most dominant centers of all time. Mikan redefined big men in the NBA with his rebounding, shot blocking, and shooting.

Mikan is responsible for several NBA rule changes. Moreover, several rule changes were implemented to lessen his dominant influence.

He is in charge of goaltending, lane widening to 12 feet, the introduc3-point a shot clock, and the 3 point line.

Similarly, Mikan was the man who brought glory to the purple and gold long before Magic, Shaq, Jabbar, and Kobe. He won five NBA championships while with the Lakers.

George Mikan finished his career as the all-time leading scorer with 11,764 points. Later, in 1959, he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

8. Ewing, Patrick

Seattle SuperSonics, New York Knicks, and Orlando Magic

Rookie of the Year in the NBA once

Patrick Ewing ethatdies the old-school center who wants to win at all costs.

His career, however, is underappreciated due to his failure to win an NBA Championship with the New York Knicks.

However, his consistent performance throughout his career is the reason he is ranked eighth.

He developed his offensive game and low post moves, including soft jumpers, in his early years.

The toughness and defensive presence of Ewing in the middle were the foundation of the New York Knicks’ success in the 1990s.

His prime years were hampered by playing in the same Eastern Conference as Jordan, Robinson, and Olajuwon.

Ewing, on the other hand, has 11 NBA All-Star appearances and 7 All-NBA selections to his credit. Similarly, in 1999, he became the 10th player in NBA history to record 22,000 points and 10 rebounds.

Patrick Ewing was inducted into the Basketball Halwice, once for his individual career in 2008 and once as a member of the Dream Team in 2009.

7. Malone, Moses

The Utah Stars, the Spirit of St. Louis, the Buffalo Braves, the Houston Rockets, the Philadelphia 76ers, the Washington Bullets, the Atlanta Hawks, the Milwaukee Bucks, and the San Antonio Spurs are among the teams.

1 NBA Championship and 3 NBA MVPs

Moses Malone began his career after graduating from high school. Malone played for nine different teams during his career.

Malone, a 12-time All-Star, exemplifies dominant old-school centers who score and rebound with strength and skill.

Malone’s offensive rebounding earned him the moniker “Chairman of the Boards.” He also holds the NBA record for most offensive rebounds with 6,731 rebounds.

Teaming up with Julius Erving, aka Dr.J Malone, made the 83 Sixers the most dominant force in the NBA that season, winning the championship.

Malone is one of the NBA’s most underappreciated players. Furthermore, he is one of only eight players to have won three or more NBA MVP awards.

Moses Malone was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2001.

6. David Robinson

Spurs of San Antonio

2x NBA Champion, 1x NBA MVP, and 1x NBA Defensive Player of the Year

In his career, David Robinson, aka “The Admiral,” excelled both offensively and defensively. On both ends of the court, Robinson was unstoppable, slamming dunks and blocking shots.

Robinson spent his entire career with the San Antonio Spurs. Furthermore, he is the foundation of the Spurs dynasty.

He became the focal point of a small-market team in desperate need of a superstar. Later, he gave up his position as the Spurs’ face for Tim Duncan.

That is why he is also regarded as a good team player and leader.

Robinson won the NBA title in 1999 and 2003. Similarly, he won his only MVP award in 1995.

He has also been named an All-Star 10 times, All-NBA First Team four times, and NBA All-Defensive Team four times.

David Robinson has been inducted into the Hall of Fame twicedual career and once as a member of the Dream Team.

5. Hakeem Olajuwon

Toronto Raptors and Houston Rockets

2 NBA Championships, 1 NBA MVP, and 2 Defensive Player of the Year

“The Dream” of Hakeem Olajuwon is arguably the most versatile center of all time. He was capable of doing anything on defense or offense.

His strength and quickness enabled him to keep any players at bay. Hakeem is also well-known for his shot-blocking and stealing abilities.

Furthermore, he is the only player in NBA history to have more than 200 blocks and 200 steals in a single season.

He was named NBA defensive player of the year twice and was named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team five times.

Similarly, offensively, Olajuwon is known for his deft shooting touch and post footwork. He finished his career with 21.8 PPG.

He is also the creator of the famous basketball film “The Dream Shake,” which he discovered while mastering fakes and spin moves.

In Michael Jordan’s absence, Olajuwon took full advantage, winning the NBA championship and Finals MVP in 1994 and 1995.

Similarly, he has 12 NBA All-Star selections and 6 All-NBA First Team selections to his name. Olajuwon was also inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2008.

4. Shaquille O’Neal

The Orlando Magic, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, Phoenix Suns, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Boston Celtics are all contenders.

4 NBA titles/ 1 NBA MVP/ 1 NBA Rookie of the Year

Shaq O’Neal can only be described as dominant. He is without a doubt the best center of his generation.

Shaq was described as a beast by Olajuwon in The Players Tribune. Similarly, he mentioned Shaq’s size and skill set; there will be no one else.

With his strength, speed, explosiveness, and skills, he destroyed every opponent. He was exceptional on both ends of the court, whether it was scoring, rebounding, blocking, low post moves, or fast break.

Furthermore, Shaq’s signature move, the doorstep, was unstoppable. Fouling was the only way to stop him in the low post; otherwise, he would slam a monster dunk.

Shaq and Kobe Bryant formed one of the most lethal duos in NBA history. Later, he led the Lakers to a three-peat, winning Finals MVP each time.

Similarly, he is one of only three players in NBA history to win NBA MVP, Finals MVP, and All-Star MVP in the same season.

Furthermore, Shaq finished his career with 15 NBA All-Star selections and 8 All-NBA First Team selections. He was later inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2016.

3. William Russell

Celtics of Boston

11 NBA Championships and 5 NBA MVPs

Bill Rusell, the greatest winner in NBA history, is one of the most successful athletes in sports history.

Russell’s presence rendered the Boston Celtics unbeatable. His 11 NBA rings in 13 seasons as a player are almost unrivaled.

Bill Russell proudly displays his NBA championship rings.

In addition, he has 5 NBA MVPs, 12 NBA All-Star selections, and 3 All-NBA First Team selections on his resume.

Similarly, if Defensive Player of the Year had existed at the time, he would have won it all.

Russell was always the one to step up when it counted the most. His basketball IQ and defensive intensity are the primary reasons for the Celtics’ success.

Basketball is all about winning, and Russell understood what it took to do so. Kareem Abdul Jabbar referred to him as the NBA’s smartest player.

Russell could take over the entire defense by himself, despite his lack of offensive contributions.

In 1975, Abdul was inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame. Later, to honor Russell, the NBA named the Finals MVP the Bill Russell Finals MVP award in 2009.

2. Wilt Chamberlain

Warriors of Philadelphia/San Diego, 76ers of Philadelphia, and Lakers of Los Angeles

2 NBA Championships, 4 NBA MVPs, and 1 Rookie ofChamberlian’silt Chamberlian greatness is documented in the NBA record books. He is widely regarded as the most dominant athlete in American sports history.

In terms of records, he is the first and only player in NBA history to end his career averaging 30 PPG and 20 RPG.

Furthermore, he is the NBA’s all-time leading rebounder and seventh all-time leading scorer.

With 100 points and 55 rebounds in a single game, Chamberlian holds the record for most points and rebounds in a single game.

He is the only player to have averaged 50.4 PPG in a season, which he did in 1961-62.

Chamberlian has two NBA championships, five NBA MVPs, one Finals MVP, 13 NBA All-Stars, and seven All-NBA First Team selections.

He is also credited with changing several NBA rules, including goaltending, lane width, and free throw regulations.

Wilt Chamberlian was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1978.

1. Kareem Abdul Jabbar

Los Angeles Lakers, Milwaukee Bucks

6 NBA titles, 6 NBA MVPs, and 1 NBA Rookie of the Year

Kareem Abdul Jabbar takes the number one spot on our list of the greatest centers of all time.

When it comes to basketball goat conservation, most fans immediately think of his name. Jabbar’s statistics and achievements demonstrate why.

With 38,387 points, Jabbar is the NBA’s all-time leading scorer. He also holds the record for the most NBA All-Star selections (19).

Over several years, his unblockable skyhooks and defensive presence ruled the NBA. That is why Jabbar has won the NBA MVP award six times more than anyone else in history.

Furthermore, his 10 first-team All-NBA selections and 5 All-NBA selections demonstrate his all-around ability.

Jabbar led the “Showtime Lakers,” one of the most dominant dynasties in NBA history, to five titles.

Jabbar was able to play in the NBA for 20 years with few injuries thanks to Bruce Lee’s instruction. He was also inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1995.


The players on this list are all Hall of Famers. They have, however, already passed the baton to current superstars such as Nikola Jokic and Joel Embid.

Before we conclude, let’s look at a quick summary.

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