The Best NBA Centers of the 1980s

Over 1.1K Ranker voters have come together to rank this list of The Best NBA Centers of the 1980s
Voting Rules
Vote up the best NBA centers that played in the 1980s based on their performances during that decade.

In the NBA, the greatest NBA centers from the 80s were the missing piece of the puzzle on any team. The "big man" is normally the tallest man on the team, with a lot of strength and body mass. It's a necessary component for a successful team, so naturally, the greatest NBA centers from the 80s makes for a great list to look through! Vote for your favorites among the best 80s NBA centers and vote down the ones you don't think are among the best NBA centers!

When discussing the top 1980s NBA centers, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has got to be in the conversation. Patrick Ewing and Hakeem "The Dream" are also considered some of the best NBA Centers of the 1980s.

So take a look at this best NBA centers 80s and vote for your favorites! 
Most divisive: Wes Unseld
Ranked by
  • Hakeem Olajuwon
    730 votes
    Houston Rockets, Toronto Raptors

    Hakeem Olajuwon, affectionately known as "The Dream," became an unstoppable force in the paint with his exquisite footwork and exceptional shot-blocking abilities. He possessed a natural grace and agility that was seldom seen in players of his size, mesmerizing opponents and fans alike with his famous "Dream Shake" post move. Hakeem's uncanny ability to control the game on both ends of the court solidified his status as not only one of the best centers of the 1980s but in NBA history.

  • Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
    733 votes
    Los Angeles Lakers, Milwaukee Bucks

    The skyhook master, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was the quintessential center in the 1980s, revolutionizing the position with his unguardable hook shot and outstanding defensive prowess. Anchoring the "Showtime" Lakers, his versatility on both ends of the floor allowed the team to dominate their opposition, leading to multiple championships. Kareem's combination of finesse, agility, and intelligence forever changed the way centers played the game, making him a true legend of the sport.

  • Moses Malone
    614 votes
    Washington Wizards, Atlanta Hawks, Philadelphia 76ers

    Moses Malone was a relentless workhorse, tirelessly crashing the boards and muscling his way to the basket to become one of the most dominant big men of his era. The epitome of a blue-collar player, Malone's relentless determination and work ethic saw him consistently outperform opponents, often leading his teams deep into the playoffs. His influence on the game extended beyond his own stats, as his gritty, never-say-die attitude inspired countless young players to push their limits.

  • Patrick Ewing
    484 votes
    New York Knicks, Orlando Magic, Seattle Supersonics

    As the cornerstone of the New York Knicks, Patrick Ewing embodied New York City's toughness and grit in the 1980s. His imposing defensive presence and hard-nosed play near the basket struck fear in the hearts of opposing teams, while his ability to score from the low post and mid-range made him a constant offensive threat. Ewing's unwavering commitment to team success and undeniable skill have left an indelible mark on the history of NBA centers.

  • Robert Parish
    349 votes
    Boston Celtics, Charlotte Hornets, Golden State Warriors

    Robert Parish, known as "The Chief" for his stoic demeanor, was a stalwart on the legendary Boston Celtics teams of the 1980s. His intimidating shot-blocking and tough, physical play in the paint complemented the scoring prowess of teammates Larry Bird and Kevin McHale, creating an almost insurmountable force. Parish's longevity, durability, and consistency helped define the role of the modern center and solidified him as one of the best big men to ever play the game.

  • Artis Gilmore
    348 votes
    Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls

    With a unique combination of size, strength, and skill, Artis Gilmore emerged as a dominant center in both the ABA and NBA during the 1980s. His tenacity on the boards was matched only by his scoring prowess, as he could power through opponents or utilize his deft shooting touch. Gilmore's impact on the game was palpable, as his blend of athleticism and fundamental play paved the way for future generations of NBA centers.