Top 7 Best Basketball Centers Of All Time In The NBA

Last Updated on: 4th October 2023, 07:55 pm

best basketball centers of all time

Basketball has always been a sport that demands physicality, athleticism, and skill. Regarding the position of center, their role takes on even greater importance as they are responsible for defending the rim, controlling the paint, and rebounding.

Over the years, many legendary centers have dominated the NBA with their extraordinary talent and abilities. We will look at the top 7 basketball centers of all time in the NBA.

These players have left an indelible mark on the league with their exceptional career performances. From Shaquille O’Neal’s dominant presence in the paint to Bill Russell’s unparalleled defensive skills, each player has contributed something unique to the game that has earned them a spot on this list.

So buckle up and get ready to witness some of the greatest basketball players!

Shaquille O’Neal

Shaquille O’Neal, aka Shaq, dominated the paint like no other player, and his larger-than-life personality made him a fan favorite. During his career as a center in the NBA, he won four championships and was named Finals MVP three times. Standing at 7’1′ and weighing 325 pounds, Shaq’s size and strength made him nearly unstoppable on offense.

He could muscle his way past defenders and score with ease, often dunking the ball with such force that it would rattle the entire arena. Despite being known for his offensive prowess, Shaq was also an exceptional defender. His size allowed him to block shots and defend the rim with ease.

He is one of only three players in NBA history to accumulate more than 2,000 blocks and 10,000 rebounds over their career. While Shaq’s post-playing career has been just as colorful as his time on the court (including stints in acting and music), there is no denying that he will always be remembered as one of the best centers to ever play in the NBA.

Bill Russell

Bill Russell dominates this section with his record-breaking championship wins. As a dominant center for the Boston Celtics from 1956 to 1969, Russell holds the record for the most championship rings in NBA history with 11. He was known for his incredible defense and rebounding skills, averaging over 22 rebounds per game during his career.

With his exceptional leadership on and off the court, Russell led the Celtics to eight consecutive championships from 1959-1966. His incredible defensive skills earned him five NBA MVP awards. Despite retiring over fifty years ago, he still holds records for rebounding and blocked shots.

Russell played an integral role in integrating African-American players into professional basketball. He was also known for his activism off the court, using his platform to speak out against racial inequality.

With all of these impressive accomplishments, it’s easy to see why Bill Russell is considered one of the best centers of all time. Next up is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who also has quite an impressive resume on the court.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

As you read about Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, you’ll discover his impressive scoring ability and signature skyhook shot that left defenders helpless. Standing at 7’2′, Abdul-Jabbar dominated the center with exceptional footwork and shooting accuracy. He is considered one of the greatest basketball players of all time, having won six NBA championships and being named to the All-NBA First Team a record ten times.

However, Abdul-Jabbar’s most significant achievement is being the all-time leading scorer in NBA history with 38,387 points. This record has stood for over three decades since he retired from professional basketball in 1989. His longevity and consistency enabled him to hold this record despite fierce competition from other star players who came after him.

Wilt Chamberlain

Get ready to learn about the incredible Wilt Chamberlain, a towering figure in basketball history. As one of the most dominant centers to ever play the game, Chamberlain was known for his impressive size and athleticism.

Here are some of the key highlights from his career:

  • Scoring machine: With an average of 30.1 points per game over his entire career, Chamberlain is second only to Michael Jordan in terms of all-time scoring average.
  • Rebounding master: Chamberlain also holds the record for most rebounds per game with an astounding 22.9, a record that still stands today.
  • Unstoppable force: During the 1961-62 season, Chamberlain set another record by averaging an incredible 50.4 points per game.

Chamberlain’s impact on the sport cannot be overstated. His talent and dominance as a center helped pave the way for future generations of big men in basketball.

As we move on to our next center on this list, it’s important to note that it’ll take someone truly special to follow in Chamberlain’s footsteps. But next up is Hakeem Olajuwon, another legendary player who left an indelible mark on NBA history through his unique style and unmatched skills on both ends of the court.

Hakeem Olajuwon

With his fluid footwork and graceful moves on the court, Hakeem Olajuwon was a true embodiment of the artistry and finesse of basketball. His career spanned from 1984-2002, when he played for the Houston Rockets and Toronto Raptors.

Olajuwon’s contribution to basketball is significant, especially in the center position, where he dominated with his exceptional skills. He was nicknamed ‘The Dream’ for his incredible agility despite being 7 feet tall. He could easily play offense and defense, averaging 21.8 points per game and 3.1 blocks per game throughout his career. These numbers are remarkable for a center player, showing that Olajuwon was an excellent scorer and an efficient defender who could guard against even the best players in the league.

With such remarkable achievements, it’s no surprise that Hakeem Olajuwon is considered one of the greatest centers of all time, alongside other legends like David Robinson. As we transition into discussing David Robinson next, it’s important to note that Robinson and Olajuwon were considered two of the best centers during their era, making their rivalry on the court legendary.

David Robinson

You’re about to discover why David Robinson, also known as ‘The Admiral’, was a force to be reckoned with on the basketball court.

Standing at 7’1′, Robinson was an imposing figure who dominated the paint throughout his career. He played for the San Antonio Spurs from 1989 to 2003 and is considered one of the greatest centers in NBA history.

Robinson’s accomplishments are numerous. He won two NBA championships (1999, 2003) with the Spurs and was named the league MVP in 1995. In addition to being a 10-time All-Star, he won two Olympic gold medals with Team USA (1992, 1996).

Robinson ranks among the all-time leaders in points scored, rebounds, blocks, and steals. His style of play drew comparisons to other great centers, such as Moses Malone and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Robinson’s size, athleticism, and skill made him a formidable opponent for any team he faced during his time in the NBA.

As we discuss Dwight Howard, it’s important to note that while both he and Robinson were dominant centers during their respective eras, they had vastly different playing styles.

Dwight Howard

Let’s take a closer look at why Dwight Howard, also known as ‘Superman’, was a dominant force on the court and what set him apart from other centers of his era.

Howard played in the NBA for 16 seasons, winning three Defensive Player of the Year awards (2009-2011) and being named to eight All-Star teams.

His athletic ability and physical dominance made him one of the most feared defenders in NBA history.

Howard’s play style drew comparisons to some of the greatest players in NBA history, including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, and Karl Malone.

He possessed a rare combination of size, strength, speed, and agility, allowing him to dominate both ends of the floor.

Despite his impressive statistics and accolades throughout his career, critics often point out his lack of offensive skills or poor free-throw shooting.

Nevertheless, there is no denying that Dwight Howard has solidified himself as one of the top basketball centers of all time in the NBA.


In conclusion, the top 7 best basketball centers of all time in the NBA have been discussed and analyzed.

Shaquille O’Neal, Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain, Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson, and Dwight Howard have set a high standard for excellence in their position.

These legends have displayed an array of skills, from rebounding to scoring points, that will forever be remembered in basketball history.

Each center has left a lasting impact on the game with its unique style of play.

It’s no surprise that these players continue to inspire current and aspiring basketball athletes.

Overall, these centers are remarkable athletes and pioneers who have contributed to the growth and evolution of the sport.

Their legacies will continue to live on as they remain icons in basketball.