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The Greatest NBA Centers of All Time 

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
88.8k votes 11.8k voters 140.8k views 168 items

List Rules Professional basketball players in the center position

Throughout basketball history, having a franchise center has been a crucial part of building a championship team. The best NBA centers have carried the success of many basketball teams. A lot of teams spend years looking for a dominant center, but not too many graduate from project to an iconic, Hall of Fame big man. Some teams have had better luck than others when landing a great NBA center. The Los Angeles Lakers has been the best NBA team at developing and trading for the best centers in the league. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain, George Mikan and Shaquille O'Neal are all centers who have played for the Lakers.

Another team that's had a number of great centers on its roster is the Houston Rockets. Counting Moses Malone, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Yao Ming as its alumni, not to mention Dwight Howard, could all be considered some of the top centers in the NBA. While a great center may not guarantee a championship, it certainly doesn't hurt to have any of the big men on this list on your team.

Many of these centers are the biggest names in basketball history. They have MVP awards, scoring titles, and Defensive Player of the Year awards spread among them. Vote for the players you think deserve to be called the best centers of all time.

list ordered by
1
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest NBA Centers of All Time
2
Wilt Chamberlain is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest NBA Centers of All Time
3
Bill Russell is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest NBA Centers of All Time
4
Hakeem Olajuwon is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest NBA Centers of All Time
Houston Rockets, Toronto Raptors

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#5 of 153 The Best NBA Player Nicknames #1,172 of 2,198 The Best Athletes Of All Time

5
Shaquille O'Neal is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest NBA Centers of All Time
6
Moses Malone is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest NBA Centers of All Time
Washington Wizards, Atlanta Hawks, Philadelphia 76ers
7
David Robinson is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest NBA Centers of All Time
8
Patrick Ewing is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest NBA Centers of All Time
Orlando Magic, Seattle Supersonics, New York Knicks
9
Tim Duncan is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest NBA Centers of All Time
10
Dikembe Mutombo is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest NBA Centers of All Time
Atlanta Hawks, Philadelphia 76ers, Brooklyn Nets

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#7 of 107 The Best Foreign NBA Players of All Time #5 of 27 The Best NBA Centers of the '90s

11
George Mikan is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest NBA Centers of All Time
Los Angeles Lakers
12
Alonzo Mourning is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest NBA Centers of All Time
Brooklyn Nets, Charlotte Hornets, Miami Heat
13
Yao Ming is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest NBA Centers of All Time
Houston Rockets
14
Robert Parish is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest NBA Centers of All Time
Boston Celtics, Charlotte Hornets, Golden State Warriors

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#96 of 292 The Most Obnoxious Athletes #1,709 of 2,198 The Best Athletes Of All Time

15
Bill Walton is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest NBA Centers of All Time
Portland Trail Blazers, Boston Celtics, San Diego Clippers

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#1,960 of 2,198 The Best Athletes Of All Time #10 of 23 The Best NBA Centers of the 1980slisted on Left Handed Basketball Players

16
Willis Reed is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest NBA Centers of All Time
17
Artis Gilmore is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest NBA Centers of All Time
18
Nate Thurmond is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest NBA Centers of All Time
Cleveland Cavaliers, Golden State Warriors, San Francisco Warriors

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#6 of 22 The Best NBA Centers of the 1960s #31 of 151 The Best NBA Players with No Championship Rings

19
Wes Unseld is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest NBA Centers of All Time
Washington Wizards, Baltimore Bullets

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#8 of 22 The Best NBA Centers of the 1960s #8 of 24 The Best Centers of the 70s

20
Dwight Howard is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest NBA Centers of All Time
21
Elvin Hayes is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest NBA Centers of All Time
Washington Wizards, Baltimore Bullets, Houston Rockets

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#95 of 153 The Best NBA Player Nicknames #3 of 22 The Best NBA Centers of the 1960s

22
Bob Lanier is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest NBA Centers of All Time
23
Ben Wallace is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest NBA Centers of All Time
Washington Wizards, Orlando Magic, Cleveland Cavaliers
24
Dave Cowens is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest NBA Centers of All Time
25
Pau Gasol is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest NBA Centers of All Time