Where Does Shaq Rank Amongst the NBA’S Greatest Centers?


Dwight Howard dominates headlines and media reports nowadays, but before Dwight and his sideshow, another imposing big man roamed the paint in Orlando and L.A, one who also had a tendency to run his mouth, but who knew how to back it up on the court. With Shaq, you got an actor, a comedian, a rapper, a cop…even an MBA, but above all else, you got a core basketball player, one of the last true centers to play the game.

Shaq was a talent unlike any we had ever seen. Despite his imposing size (listed at 7’1, 325 lbs.), Shaq also dazzled with his skill and quickness.

With the Shaqnosis dropping Friday, we decided to see just where this unique talent ranked amongst the greatest centers of all-time.

Our Top 5 Countdown of Centers of All-Time:

5. Hakeem Olajuwon:

  • Career Averages: 21.8 points, 11.1 rebounds, 3.1 blocks, 1.7 steals
  • Notable Stats:
    • 9-Time 1st team NBA All-Defense
    • 2-Time Defensive Player Of the Year
    • ‘93-‘94 NBA MVP
    • 2-Time Finals MVP
    • 2-Time champ

Our Take: With his game changing defense and vast array of moves, including his patented “Dream Shake,” Hakeem was a force to be reckoned with throughout his Hall of Fame career, culminating in his two NBA championships.

4. Shaquille O’Neal:

  • Career Averages: 23.7 points, 10.9 rebounds, 2.3 blocks
  • Notable Stats:
    • 3-Time 1st Team NBA All-Defense
    • 3-Time Finals MVP
    • ‘99-‘00 NBA MVP
    • 4-Time Champ

Our Take: Shaq’s ability to dominate games and punish defenses earns him the 4th spot on our list. During his peak in the early 2000s, Shaq wreaked so much havoc on opposing teams that the NBA had to allow zone defenses in an effort to slow down the big guy.

3. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar:

  • Career Averages: 24.6 points, 11.2 rebounds, 2.6 blocks, .9 steals
  • Notable Stats:
    • Averaged 27+ points per game for first 7 years in the League
    • NBA All-Time leading scorer
    • NBA All-Time leader in minutes played
    • Second All-Time in games played
    • Averaged over 21 points per game for first 17 years in the League
    • 6-Time MVP
    • 2-Time Finals MVP
    • 6-Time Champ

Our Take: Kareem’s sustained excellence over his 20-year career is unquestioned, but his real legacy lives on in every kid’s backyard as we all try to figure out how to master the iconic skyhook that made him a legend.

2. Bill Russell:

  • Career Averages: 15.1 points, 22.5 rebounds, blocks unknown (as they weren’t a viable measured statistic during his time)
  • Notable Stats:
    • 5-time MVP
    • 11-time champ (in 13 seasons)

Our Take: The league did not start recording blocks or steals until 1973-74, but we can only imagine how many he would have racked up. If you need statistics to validate Russell’s position on this list, look no further than his career average of 22.5 rebounds per game, but his true greatness can only be understood by looking at his 11 rings. We may not have him as our greatest center of all-time, but he is without a doubt the greatest winner.

1. Wilt Chamberlain:

  • Career Stats: 30.1 points, 22.9 rebounds, 45.8 minutes per game, blocks unknown (as they weren’t a viable measured statistic during his time)
  • Notable Stats:
    • March 2, 1962: Scores 100 points in a game
    • ’61-’62: Averaged 50.4 points per game, 48.5 minutes per game
    • ‘67-‘68: Led league in assists
    • Never fouled out of a game
    • 4-Time MVP
    • 2-Time Champ

Our Take: Chamberlain and Russell battled it out on the court many times during the ‘60s, with Wilt coming out on the losing end more often than not. But from an individual perspective, Wilt’s numbers will never again be matched. He scored at will and dominated games like no one else in history, even going so far as to force the NBA to institute the 3-second in the lane rule.