Here we are, with the final position rankings for the last three decades after hitting the point guards, shooting guards, small forwards and power forwards. Whew! I hope you have been enjoying reading the rankings as much as I have enjoyed writing them.

With this final position, a note: It has always been my intention to only include players that played most of their careers during the 1980′s, 90′s and/or 2000′s. So, a couple of shout-outs are in order.

Honorable mentions go to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (11 seasons pre-1980; nine seasons in the 80s) and Bill Walton (five seasons pre-1980s; five seasons in the 80s; most of his renown in the 1970s, so judgement call to keep him off the list). If included in this list, Kareem would have been first overall for being first overall in points, winning championships and mastering the most unstoppable shot ever seen, the SkyHook. Walton would make it somewhere at the end with his mystique being more than his production.

Here are the factors, in varying degrees, taken into account in making this ranking – statistics, impact on the game, awards and honors, longevity, playoff performance and my own gut instincts. Feel free to disagree and make cases for others in the comments.
10. Yao Ming, Houston Rockets (2002-10; missed entire 2009-10 season)
486 G; 19.0 PPG; 9.2 RPG; 1.6 APG; 52.4 FG%; 83.3 FT%; 0.4 SPG; 1.9 BPG

It stinks to have messed-up feet and Yao would agree. The recently-retired big man from Asia (chest thump and fist salute) was as allergic to staying healthy as Shaquille O’Neal was to making free throws. Yao was fundamentally sound in every way, even hitting from the charity stripe at an excellent clip, other than in health. A big sigh and shaking of the head was almost an annual event with the Rockets and Yao when he would be off the floor due to injury. See.

Yao only hit the benchmark double-double twice in his career, but both were 20/10 campaigns. He was selected to eight All-Star games, including this past season’s despite only playing five games. You don’t think China stands behind their dude with the online voting? China don’t play that, son! However, the midseason honor was deserved most of the time, as Yao’s five All-NBA team selections prove. Yao also made the All-Rookie first team (2002-03). He finished with the 21st-ranked career PER of 23.0 and an ORtg of 112.

Yao was an excellent ambassador for the NBA, helping the league’s popularity climb to ridiculous heights in Asia. It’s a shame that he was never fully healthy, but regardless, he’ll always be a hero in China. And who could ever forget this moment during the 2008 Beijing Olympics? Keep your head — and feet — up, Yao!

9. Dikembe Mutombo, Denver Nuggets (1991-1996), Atlanta Hawks (1996-2001), Philadelphia 76ers (2001-02), New Jersey Nets (2002-03), New York Knicks (2003-04), Houston Rockets (2004-09)
1,196 G; 9.8 PPG; 10.3 RPG; 1.0 APG; 51.8 FG%; 68.4 FT%; 0.4 SPG; 2.8 BPG

Mount Mutombo is known for his finger wag, a light-hearted taunt with a very balls out, head nod feel to it. “Yeah, not in my house, biatch!” A quick look on YouTube helped me find this highlight video, as well as finger wag tributes, both positive (homage) and negative (back in your face, Mutombo). And if you think about it, even the latter is sort of an homage to one of the great shot-blockers of all-time.

Mutombo is the owner of 11 double-double seasons, leading the league in rebounds twice (1999-00, 2000-01) and in blocks three times (1993-94, 1994-95, 1995-96). He was chosen for eight All-Star games, the All-Rookie first team (1991-92), three All-NBA teams and six All-Defensive teams, including three first team selections. He’s a four-time Defensive Player of the Year (1994-95, 1996-97, 1997-98, 2000-01) and ranks second all-time in total blocks (3,289) and seventh in career block average. Mutombo is 10th all-time in both total offensive rebounds (3,808) and defensive rebounds (8,551) and 18th all-time in total rebounds (12,359). He finished with a 17.2 PER and 111 ORtg.

Mutombo was a likeable player because he played hard from beginning to end, had swagger on the defensive end when everyone had it on offense and was a funny sounding and goofy guy. He took as well as he gave and that dumb smile will forever be remembered, just like his finger wag.

8. Robert Parish, Golden State Warriors (1976-1980), Boston Celtics (1980-1994), Charlotte Hornets (1994-96), Chicago Bulls (1996-97)
1,611 G; 14.5 PPG; 9.1 RPG; 1.4 APG; 53.7 FG%; 72.1 FT%; 0.8 SPG; 1.5 BPG

Whenever Parish’s name comes up, I instantly think of the medicinal benefits of marijuana. Sure it’s illegal in most of the United States, but the guy played for 22 NBA seasons and always seemed spry, even in the twilight of his career. (Before I go further, I feel like I have to say that I do not promote the use of any illegal drug or hanging out with Snoop Dogg or Dave Chappelle during the night time. OK, maybe the day too.)

Parish never averaged 20 points per game during his career, but did average a double-double 10 times. He made nine All-Star games, including seven consecutive selections (1981-1987). He was selected to two All-NBA teams and was a part of four NBA title teams; three with the Boston Celtics (1981, 1984, 1986) and one with the Chicago Bulls (1997). Parish is the all-time leader in games played (1,611), seventh in total rebounds (14,715), 10th in total blocks (2,361) and 19th in total points (23,334). The Chief finished with a 19.2 PER and 111 ORtg.

The Chief was a bad man, even though you probably didn’t notice how much work he was doing, as he didn’t seem like he noticed either. Unless you’re Bill Laimbeer, because then you both notice. Parish was a stoic figure that never seemed to smile and might secretly be a cyborg of some kind. However, it’s hard to argue the production and you have to appreciate the longevity of Parish’s career.

7. Alonzo Mourning, Charlotte Hornets (1992-95; 2005-08), Miami Heat (1995-2002), New Jersey Nets (2003-05)
838 G; 17.1 PPG; 8.5 RPG; 1.1 APG; 52.7 FG%; 69.2 FT%; 0.5 SPG; 2.8 BPG

I was a huge Patrick Ewing fan growing up, so it was only natural to hear about Mourning once he committed to Georgetown. It always seemed like Mourning had a chip on his shoulder and the man was just nasty. Don’t even try it, player, unless you want to look dumb. Like I said, nasty.

Mourning had four 20/10 seasons and came within a point or rebound four other times during his career. Zo was selected to seven All-Star games, named to the All-Rookie first team (1992-93), as well as being selected to two All-NBA teams, including the 1998-99 first team. Zo was also selected to two All-Defensive first teams and won the Defensive Player of the Year in back-to-back seasons (1998-99 and 1999-2000). He was on the 2006 Miami Heat championship team. Despite a shortened career, he’s 11th all-time in total blocks (2,356) and owns the sixth-best blocks average at 2.8 rejections per contest. Mourning finished with a 21.2 PER and 108 ORtg.

Zo might have been higher on the list if a kidney disease didn’t rob him of significant playing time in his 30s, but c’est la vie. It happened and he moved on, doing the best he could. Forget Ron Artest, Zo was a true warrior (spelled correctly even). I’ll always remember the grimace on Mourning’s face that never seemed to leave. Well, that, and this.

6. Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic (2004-Present)
567 G; 18.2 PPG; 12.9 RPG; 1.5 APG; 57.8 FG%; 59.8 FT%; 1.0 SPG; 2.2 BPG

Howard is the only active player on the list, and while he’s only played seven seasons and is still relatively young to be mentioned in this group, perhaps this high, it’s a simple fact that he’s dominating. Not just this year, but the past few years. He has at least several productive seasons ahead of him and should move up the rankings as time goes on, especially if Howard can help lead his team, whichever it may be (sorry Orlando), to an NBA title.

In his seven seasons, Howard has averaged a double-double in every single one of them, which include three 20/10 campaigns. In 2009-10, he led the league in field goal percentage (61.2 percent), rebounds (13.2 RPG) and blocks (2.8 BPG). D12 has also led the league in rebounds two other times (2007-08, 2008-09) and another time in blocks (2008-09). Howard is currently a five-time All-Star (2007-2011). He was a first team All-Rookie selection (2004-05) and has been named to five All-NBA squads, including four consecutive first team honors. D12 has been named to four All-Defensive teams and has won the last three Defensive Player of the Year awards.

Howard is a threat to always make a highlight when he steps on the floor, and while he does dunk a lot, he’s making strides in his offensive game, especially if he keeps going to this guy. As you’ll see below, it’s worth the effort. Already a defensive stalwart, if Howard adds more polish offensively, it’s a guarantee that he’ll move up to at least two spots on talent and skill set alone.

5. Patrick Ewing, New York Knicks (1985-2000), Seattle SuperSonics (2000-01), Orlando Magic (2001-02)
1,183 G; 21.0 PPG; 9.8 RPG; 1.9 APG; 50.4 FG%; 74.0 FT%; 1.0 SPG; 2.4 BPG

Simply put, I love Patrick Ewing. As a freshman in high school, I actually had a dedicated notebook where I wrote down all of his basic stats from the Daily News or New York Post after every one of his games. I had no idea why, but that’s when we can probably assume I became obsessed with hoops. And, I actually do have an adidas Ewing jersey from back in the 1980s. It’s basically dissolved and I never wear it, but I keep it for posterity’s sake. He’s definitely the greatest Knick in my mind.

Ewing reached the double-double mark nine times, all of which were 20/10 seasons. He was chosen for 11 All-Star games, including 10 consecutive starting in 1988. He was the 1985-86 Rookie of the Year, a three-time All-Defensive selection (all second team) and a member of seven All-NBA teams that includes one first team nod. He’s 15th all-time in field goal attemps (19,241), 12th in field goals made (9,702), eighth in total defensive rebounds (8,855), 24th in total rebounds (11,607), sixth in blocks 2,894) and 16th in points (24,815). Ewing finished with a 21.0 PER and 106 ORtg.

Ewing is in the middle of NBA Draft Lottery controversy as he was the top prize when the lottery was first instituted. Many accused the NBA of wanting the Hoya Destroya in the big market of New York and fixing the lottery so that Ewing played with the Knicks. Personally, I’m glad, because it would have sucked if my NBA obsession was fueled by watching Benoit Benjamin or Jon Koncak play for my team. In any case, one of the reasons why I hate Michael Jordan — well, probably the only reason — is that he contributed to Ewing not getting more chances to win a ring. Despite the naked fingers, I love Patrick Ewing. I’m not really sure if that’s clear.

4. David Robinson, San Antonio Spurs (1989-2003)
987 G; 21.1 PPG; 10.6 RPG; 2.5 APG; 51.8 FG%; 73.6 FT%; 1.4 SPG; 3.0 BPG

When Robinson decided to fulfill his commitment to the Navy and forgo beginning his NBA career earlier than he did, I thought he was an idiot. Of course that doesn’t make me particularly patriotic or anything, but the man was so great to watch. This single game, when defenses were allowed to do more things like hip and hand check, will show how great Robinson was. Of course in today’s game, which is dominated by guards that handle the rock and shoot the pill more often than not, a big man might never get a chance to score 71 points ever again.

Robinson averaged a double-double nine times, eight of which were 20/10 years. He led the league in scoring once (29.8 PPG in 1993-94), rebounding once (13.0 RPG in 1990-91) and blocks once (4.5 BPG in 1991-92). Robinson is a 10-time All-Star. The Admiral made an immediate splash (no pun intended) his rookie season, winning the Rookie of the Year award. He made eight All-Defensive teams, including four first team selections and won the Defensive Player of the Year for the 1991-92 season. Robinson is a 10-time All-NBA selection, including four first teams, and he won the NBA MVP award once (1994-95). Robinson is a two-time NBA champion (1999, 2003) with the Spurs. He’s 12th overall in free throw attempts (8,201), 15th in free throws made (6,035), 29th in total rebounds (10,497), fifth in total blocks (2,954) and 23rd in points (20,790). Robinson owns the fourth-best PER ever (26.2) and a 116 ORtg.

In spite of some funny Nike commercials, Robinson was never the boisterous, look-at-me type of player. There was a definite humility about the way he did things and it had to have had an effect on the greatest power forward ever, Tim Duncan. The Admiral had some really outstanding numbers, but you never noticed until the game was over and that probably suited him best anyway. Classy player. Classy person.

3. Moses Malone, Buffalo Braves (1976), Houston Rockets (1976-1982), Philadelphia 76ers (1982-86; 1993-94), Washington Bullets (1986-88), Atlanta Hawks (1988-1991), Milwaukee Bucks (1991-93), San Antonio Spurs (1994)
1,329 G; 20.6 PPG; 12.2 RPG; 1.4 APG; 49.1 FG%; 76.9 FT%; 0.8 SPG; 1.3 BPG

The thing I remember hearing as a kid about Malone was that he missed his shots on purpose in order to get more rebounds. Considering his place all-time in offensive rebounds, I believe it. I even remember seeing it happen before my eyes as I watched games back in the day. Hey, whatever. It doesn’t diminish what he’s contributed to the game and how well he did his thing.

Malone averaged a double-double 13 times in his NBA career, including 11 times hitting the 20/10 mark. He led the league in rebounding average in six of seven years between the 1978-79 and 1984-85 seasons. Malone played 126 games in the ABA and posted 17.2 PPG and 12.9 RPG while at the red, white and blue ball league. He was selected to a dozen All-Star games, all consecutive from 1978 to 1989. Malone was selected to two All-Defensive teams, eight All-NBA teams where it’s evenly split at four apiece in the first and second teams. Malone is a three-time NBA MVP (1978-79, 1981-82, 1982-83) and won the NBA Finals MVP when the Sixers won the NBA title in 1983. He ranks fifth in games (1,329), 16th in field goal attempts (19,225), 15th in field goals made (9,435), fourth in free throw attempts (11,090), second in free throws made (8,531), first in offensive rebounds (6,731), fifth in defensive rebounds (9,481), fifth in total rebounds (16,212) and seventh in points (27,409). Malone finished with a 22.3 PER and 114 ORtg.

Malone didn’t dominate the way that Shaq did, or even the way Hakeem Olajuwon did (oooh… foreshadowing). His game wasn’t pretty at all. However, as the saying goes, a dunk and a lay-up are both two points no matter what. Moses just got it done.

2. Hakeem Olajuwon, Houston Rockets (1984-2001), Toronto Raptors (2001-02)
1,238 G; 21.8 PPG; 11.1 RPG; 2.5 APG; 51.2 FG%; 71.2 FT%; 1.7 SPG; 3.1 BPG

If I was starting an NBA team and I had to select a center from this list, The Dream would be my choice. Nothing against the power and raw dominance of Shaq, but Olajuwon’s agility, smarts, quickness and defensive acumen would be too hard for me to pass up. It’s sort of a modern day question of do you take Wilt Chamberlain or Bill Russell. Only in this case, “Wilt” has more rings. However, I’d challenge you to say that Hakeem wasn’t more important to his Rockets’ title teams than Shaq was to his Lakers and Heat teams.

Olajuwon began his career with a dozen years of dominance averaging a 20/10, as well as coming within 0.8 rebounds in each of the next three seasons to average a double-double. He’s led the league in rebounds twice (1988-89, 1989-90) and blocks three times (1989-90, 1990-91, 1992-93). Olajuwon is a 12-time All-Star and made the All-Rookie first team in 1984-85 when that Michael Jordan guy won the Rookie of the Year award. He was selected to nine All-Defensive teams, including five first teams, plus he won the Defensive Player of the Year twice (1992-93, 1993-94). Hakeem made a dozen All-NBA squads that include six first teams. Olajuwon won the NBA MVP award in 1993-94 and won the NBA Finals MVP (1994, 1995) when his Rockets won the NBA championship in back-to-back seasons. He’s 10th overall in field goal attempts (20,991), seventh in field goals made (10,749), 18th in free throw attempts (7,621), 21st in free throws made (5,423), eighth in offensive rebounds (4,034), fourth in defensive rebounds (9,714), 11th in total rebounds (13,748), eighth in steals (2,162), first in blocks (3,830) and ninth in total points (26,946). Olajuwon ended his career with a 23.6 PER and 108 ORtg.

At first I didn’t like Hakeem because he was the Lex Luthor to Patrick Ewing’s Superman, both in college and the pros. However, watching Olajuwon play was a beautiful thing because he was very much like a ballerina dancing around defenses down in the post. The Dream Shake was unstoppable.

1. Shaquille O’Neal, Orlando Magic (1992-96), Los Angeles Lakers (1996-2004), Miami Heat (2004-08), Phoenix Suns (2008-09), Cleveland Cavaliers (2009-10), Boston Celtics (2010-11)
1,207 G; 23.7 PPG; 10.9 RPG; 2.5 APG; 58.2 FG%; 52.7 FT%; 0.6 SPG; 2.3 BPG

O’Neal is the modern day Wilt Chamberlain, as mentioned above. However, if I had to choose between the two, I’d take Wilt. Just a preference. However, when it comes to an all-around impact on the game, Shaq and his smile, Shaq-Fu hip hop persona and perhaps the greatest genie movie ever, O’Neal definitely stands out even more. The basket breaking dunks help too. And, most importantly, the four rings on his giant fingers.

O’Neal began his career with 13 consecutive 20/10 seasons. He led the league in scoring average twice (1994,95, 1999-2000) and in field goal percentage 10 times. Shaq is a 15-time All-Star, winning the game’s MVP award three times (2000, 2004, 2009). He hit the ground running, destroying backboards and winning the NBA Rookie of the Year award (1992-93). He was selected to three All-Defensive teams and 14 All-NBA teams that include eight with the first squad. Shaq has only won one MVP award (1999-2000), but three NBA Finals MVPs (2000, 2001, 2002), helping the Lakers and Kobe Bryant to a three-peat to begin the 2000s. He won another title with the Dwyane Wade-led Miami Heat in 2006. O’Neal is 14th overall in field goal attempts (19,457), fifth in field goals made (11,330), second in field goal percentage (58.2%), third in free throw attempts (11,252), 17th in free throws made (5,935), sixth in offensive rebounds (4,209), seventh in defensive rebounds (8,890), 12th in total rebounds (13,099), seventh in blocks (2,732) and fifth in points (28,596). Shaq finished his career with the third-best PER ever (26.4) and a 113 ORtg.

It’s hard for me to say that Shaq is the greatest center during this three decade period because of Olajuwon’s presence, but looking at the numbers (stats, titles, and box office receipts … kidding on the latter), O’Neal eeks out the top spot. Of course, some may say that it’s a no-brainer, but other than Michael Jordan being the best ever, nothing is a no-brainer.

That said, feel free to leave your comments below or hit me up on Twitter, where I’ll be live-tweeting “Kazaam” this weekend at 9PM ET. No, not really.

Comments (43)

  1. What about Kareem??? How can parish be there but not the man who dominated the centre position in the 70′s and 80′s?

    • Wow no kareem like he could be considered the best player ever he has six rings and more point than jordan

  2. Good list. Whats next for for your next top ten’s?

  3. @FW Read the third paragraph.

    @lh For the next two weeks, I play fortune-teller and select players with four seasons or less of experience that have the best shot of making a “best” list. First up will be backcourt players, then frontcourt. Thanks for reading!

  4. How can you keep Kareem off the list just because he played in the 70s? Or this a list of best center who STARTED their careers 1980-onward? Kareem was still a beast in the 80s.

    Kareem won FIVE championships in the 80′s, won a Finals MVP in 1985, was the anchor to the Showtime Lakers, scored 16 246 points in the 1980′s which equates to 20.6 ppg, he got 5980 rebounds in the 80′s which equates to 7.6 rpg, blocked 1594 which equates to 2 bpg and he played in 787 games not including the playoffs. And he shot 56.6%.

    His playoff ppg averages from ’80-’89: 31.9, 26.7, 20.4, 27.1, 23.9, 21.9, 25.9, 19.2, 14.1, 11.1.

  5. @Will It wasn’t because he played in the 1970s as Moses did as well. It was because he played most of his career pre-1980s. It’s the same reason I left off Dr. J from the greatest shooting guards list. Second and third paragraphs should make it clear, but I understand the call for Kareem. He was arguably the best center ever and as I mentioned, I put him at one if I included him.

  6. @DV

    Kareem played 10 seasons pre-1980, those being 69-70, 70-71, 71-72, 72-73, 73-74 74-75, 75-76, 76-77, 77-78 and 78-79.
    And 10 seasons post-1980, those being 79-80, 80-81, 81-82, 82-83, 83-84, 84-85, 85-86, 86-87, 87-88 and 88-89.
    Unless 79-80 is somehow still counted as pre-1980…..

    Whatever though, 80′s Kareem would still crush half the centers on this list.

  7. Sorry, skipped the paragraph and headed straight to Yao!

    Still think Kareem should be on the list. While he wasnt the dominant player he was in the 70′s, with 5 rings, 10 all star appearances, a finals MVP, 4 NBA first teams and 2 all NBA defensive first teams all in the 80′s, I think he’s thoroughly deserving. His Airplane! cameo alone deserves top 5 recognition…

  8. @Will The way I figured it, seasons/years started with the first calendar year that appears, so that 1979-80 season counted as being in the 70s. And, I agree about Kareem crushing everyone else on the list… I’d definitely put him at 1 amongst the list.

    @FW Hahaha… they don’t make movies like Airplane anymore. I’m still waiting for the next Mel Brooks type movie where political correctness doesn’t exist.

  9. I know he spent the vast majority of his career not in the NBA, but I believe that Sabonis deserves a spot on the list of greatest centers of the past 3 decades.

  10. No Shawn Bradley?? FAIL! Oh wait, sorry, this is the 10 BEST centers. My bad.

  11. Hakeem should be #1

  12. Todd MacCullough? Seriously, you left him off?

  13. how did mutombo win four DPOY awards but only made three defensive first teams?

  14. no ben wallace?

  15. +1 for “not your vidis, not my vidis, but” arvidis.

  16. @mathias Good question. I got the information from Basketball-Reference (http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/m/mutomdi01.html) and if I wasn’t at work, I’d dig deeper. Interesting point though.

    The season in question is 1994-95 and either Dennis Rodman or David Robinson took his spot on the first team as far as I can guess. However, in the DPOY voting, it wasn’t even close. Mutombo received 45 first place votes with the second place player, Scottie Pippen, received 16 first place votes. Robinson received 12 and Rodman received 11.

  17. i would argue for the admiral above moses malone. Moses played for a lot longer so i understand longevity playing into it (though not Robinsons fault because he missed a bit of his early career with duty), but Robinson beats Malone in every category (rings included) but rebounding and FT%(marginal), especially defensively. If you told me I had to pick between one of those two, I’m picking the admiral every time

  18. I’d take Big Ben’s 5 best seasons (including 4 DPOYs and 5 All-NBA, no 1st) over Yao’s 5 best (including 5 All-NBA, no 1st) any day.
    And that’s not talking durability.
    Wallace had 11 years of 10+ rbds and 2+ blks per 36. He played 30+ in 7 of those seasons. Yao played 7 seqasons total, including his rookie season and thre 50 games seasons.
    To fairly compare Yao’s numbers to other’s, you have to adjust. In his 7 best seasons, Ben averaged 7.7pts 12.6 boards 2.7 blks 1.5 stls, again, had 4 DPOYs (3 of which are historically good (top50 Drtg) seasons), and, last but not least, made defense (and afros) cool again! I don’t care how much Yao increased NBA popularity in Asia or how nice he is, those aren’t small feats!

    Just to get into durability a lil: Ben played 2 times as many games as Yao, ans thus has at least 2 times as much career boards, assists, blocks and steals. Intererstingly enough, he doesn’t have 2 times as much fouls or TOs. Yao does (obviously) outscore him (+FGs and FTs).

    Also, best defensive season ever:
    http://www.basketball-reference.com/leaders/def_rtg_season.html

    I’d also have Mutombo over Parish.

    Again, all hail Defense!

  19. @DV I think now I know why. the press votes for the award and the coaches for the team. so I guess the coaches just didn’t agree with the media’s decision

  20. 2 words, TIM DUNCAN.
    How many rings does Patrick Ewing have?

  21. @Breyzh One of the factors for the list is impact on the game and that’s partly the reason I had to include Yao. Having a player of his calibre skill set from a foreign country, let alone China where there are LOTS of people (understatement), and heightening the popularity of the NBA that much more internationally… well, I had to put him in.

    @mathias Thanks for doing the legwork… had a feeling it was something like that. Thanks for getting a definitive answer, dude!

  22. @Champs96 Duncan is on the Power Forwards list and he’s at the top of it!

  23. Owe Ming? cmon now

  24. yao shouldnt be there, and hakeem should be #1

  25. I know that you’ve tried to explain why Kareem isn’t on here, but it’s silly: 80′s Kareem ate Parish for breakfast, digested him, and pooped him out by lunch, so he could eat other centers.

    If you just take his 80′s career on its own, it’s still better than guys 10-5.

    And yeah, gotta add more support for this Hakeem at 1 stuff. He just is.

  26. none of the top 9 to 5 are better than Yao. They might have more accomplished careers (Parish and Zo at max) but that is only because of Yao’s injury. Kareem should be No 1 on that list and Deke should not be in the top 10. Kareem won 4 championships in tha past 3 decades…

  27. Hakeem is number 1, no doubt about that!

  28. @flegman Yao is better than Ewing? or Howard?
    Please, you’re embarrassing yourself.

    Durability has to be taken into account. It”s not based on the best season one of those players had, or McGrady would be higher on the SG list and VC would have made it.
    Simply put: Yao brought way less to Houston that those other guys did for their team, mostly because he only had 6 productive seasons (including three 50 games seasons) because of his health. It may seem unfair, but it’s obvious for a franchise that you should take a guy who can be very productive during 12 years (Ewing) over a guy who can be somewhat productive during 6 (Yao).

    @DV not buying it, dude. I’d even take Ben over Mutombo or Parish, but I wouldn’t argue he should be placed higher than them. I love Yao, but if you don’t take his popularity into account and you put emphasis on totals or on playoff success, I’m not sure the guy would make the top15 of the past 3 decades (Sikma, Big Ben or Divac could outrank him easily). It’s NBA propaganda that it is so great that NBA is popular in Asia. I’ll believe it when I see a second successful asian player in the league (10 years from now)!

    It’s not because Jordan’s “brand” helps make him #1 that any internationally recognizible player has to get points for this. It’s not Sikma’s fault he wasn’t a freakishly tall asian guy supported by communist propaganda, and it doesn’t make him lesser of a player, just lesser of a trademark.

    On the Hakeem vs Shaq debate, It’s kinda hard to argue that they aren’t kind of on equal ground. Kinda the Russel and Wilt debate, as DV says. Olajuwon is more skilled and a much better defender (maybe the best defensive C ever not named Bill Russel), but Shaq was an unstoppable force, and won more championships (partly because of his teammates). O’Neal is the only player besides Wilt (against a different breed of opponents) to ever lead the league in both ppg and fg% the same year (29.7, 57.4). The guy has 10 consecutive years of scoring at least 26, at a 55% clip, 10.7 rbds, 2.3 ast, 1.7 blks and 0.5 stls (those are minimum on a 10 year period). Hakeem’s best 10 years:at least 21 on 50%, 10.8 rbds, 1.8 ast, 2.7 blks, 1.6 stl.
    Those are comparable.
    Shaq was an offensive behemoth and Hakeem a defensive genius.

    To be honest ‘tho, I’d take Hakeem to create a team around any day too. Over Shaq. over Kareem, over TD, over Bird, over James, over Jordan, over Wilt. I’m not sure I’d take him over Russel or Magic ‘tho.

    As DV said, except for Jordan at #1, there’s no clear cut.

  29. @flegman Yao is better than Ewing? or Howard?
    Please, you’re embarrassing yourself.

    Durability has to be taken into account. It”s not based on the best season one of those players had, or McGrady would be higher on the SG list and VC would have made it.
    Simply put: Yao brought way less to Houston that those other guys did for their team, mostly because he only had 6 productive seasons (including three 50 games seasons) because of his health. It may seem unfair, but it’s obvious for a franchise that you should take a guy who can be very productive during 12 years (Ewing) over a guy who can be somewhat productive during 6 (Yao).

    @DV not buying it, dude. I’d even take Ben over Mutombo or Parish, but I wouldn’t argue he should be placed higher than them. I love Yao, but if you don’t take his popularity into account and you put emphasis on totals or on playoff success, I’m not sure the guy would make the top15 of the past 3 decades (Sikma, Big Ben or Divac could outrank him easily). It’s NBA propaganda that it is so great that NBA is popular in Asia. I’ll believe it when I see a second successful asian player in the league (10 years from now)!

    It’s not because Jordan’s “brand” helps make him #1 that any internationally recognizible player has to get points for this. It’s not Sikma’s fault he wasn’t a freakishly tall asian guy supported by communist propaganda, and it doesn’t make him lesser of a player, just lesser of a trademark.

    On the Hakeem vs Shaq debate, It’s kinda hard to argue that they aren’t kind of on equal ground. Kinda the Russel and Wilt debate, as DV says. Olajuwon is more skilled and a much better defender (maybe the best defensive C ever not named Bill Russel), but Shaq was an unstoppable force, and won more championships (partly because of his teammates). O’Neal is the only player besides Wilt (against a different breed of opponents) to ever lead the league in both ppg and fg% the same year (29.7, 57.4). The guy has 10 consecutive years of scoring at least 26, at a 55% clip, 10.7 rbds, 2.3 ast, 1.7 blks and 0.5 stls (those are minimum on a 10 year period). Hakeem’s best 10 years:at least 21 on 50%, 10.8 rbds, 1.8 ast, 2.7 blks, 1.6 stl.
    Those are comparable.
    Shaq was an offensive behemoth and Hakeem a defensive genius.

    To be honest ‘tho, I’d take Hakeem to create a team around any day too. Over Shaq. over Kareem, over TD, over Bird, over James, over Jordan, over Wilt. I’m not sure I’d take him over Russel or Magic ‘tho.

    As DV said, except for Jordan at #1, there’s no clear cut.

  30. If this was the best centers all-time, Kareem would be ahead of all these guys (yet probably only 3rd on that list). I agree with leaving him off this one though. He not only played 10 super dominant seasons in the 70′s, but he’s probably the best college player in history and that was in the 60′s. The 60′s dude…

    I have to agree that Ben Wallace should be on the list ahead of Yao. Yao was clearly more talented, but less than 500 games just isn’t enough for me.

    I wonder what Parrish’s career numbers would have been if he hadn’t played all those years with the best forward tandem ever. He certainly would have had more touches but wouldn’t have had near the number of quality shots. Tough to say. 1,611 games omfg lol. That’s 19.6 full 82 game seasons worth and the dude played 4 years of college.

  31. Tie Breaker – Hakeem swept Shaq’s ass in the finals, and schooled him while doing it!

    Yao is so over-rated its not even-funny. Yes he has a good jumpshot and can shoot ft’s at a high clip, but other than that he brings little else. The guy is f’in 7’6 and has never averaged 10 boards or 2 blocks a game, that is a goddamn joke. Gerald Wallace and Shawn Marion, both at 6’7 have averaged over 10 boards a game over a season and Wallace averaged over 2 blocks a game as well for a season. Yao has absolutely no impact on the defensive end of the court. His offense is good for a big man in today’s NBA, go back a decade or two and his offense is average or below-average.

    That doesn’t even include his injuries……

    F his impact on the global game….his impact on the court isn’t all that much!

  32. I’ve really enjoyed these lists, Have you thought about putting together one for 6th men? I know it would be more complex, but It’d be worth reading.

  33. This:
    “Yao has absolutely no impact on the defensive end of the court.”
    is totally wrong.

    Yao is 29th ALL TIME in defensive rating (pts allowed per 100 possessions), ahead of KG. Guys like Howard, Bogut and Bynum have proven us that blocks can’t really account for a center’s defensive impact in nowadays’ league.

    btw, Big Ben is 5th all-time on that list:
    http://www.basketball-reference.com/leaders/def_rtg_career.html

  34. I agree with 1-8, in no particular order, however there is absolutely NO WAY Mutombo and Yao should be on this list ahead of Big Ben Wallace.

    Yao won what 1 playoff series in his short career? Any dominance Yao had at Center in his prime was restricted to the regular season only. In other words, NADA.

    Ben dominated playoff series after playoff series in his prime, as well as in the regular season He lead the best defense of all-time to a dominating victory over Shaq’s Laker’s (#1 Center on your list), en route to the championship. Then lead the same defense the following year to a game 7 against Duncan (#1 PF on your list), minutes away from another ring, nearly taking out both top big man of the era Back to Back. And you got Yao over him? What has Yao ever accomplished in this league? I dont get it.

    I thought maybe it was an offense-biased list, but then I see Mutombo next. I dont need to rehash Ben’s accomplishments, but if he tied Mutombo with 4 DPY’s, and you add in his other accomplishments where Mutombo has nothing close, how in the world cam he be over Big Ben?

    You could just watch them play and see Ben was clearly the better defensive player, and just overall big man, in terms of how he impacted games.

  35. @Breyzh – Defensive ratings cannot be relied on solely, funny how Scottie Pippen’s name is not on that list but he is one of the best defenders of all time! And Yao is ahead of KG, does that make him a better defender than KG.

  36. @Krayzie
    Agreed, it depends on which player they guard. Battier is #249 on that list, and Michael Cooper or Dennis Johnson aren’t high either because they garded the best player on the opposite team. Kinda the same thing for KG or Duncan (#3 on the list).
    Yao always guarded the center on the opposite team, so not always the best player, but still.

    Defensive rating also doesn’t account for help defense either, I believe.

    Still, you can’t say that Yao had no impact on D.

    And when Hakeem swept Shaq, he had the better supporting cast (not by far ‘tho) and was at the top of his career while Shaq was just a puppy. No way he would have swept him if they were on equal ground.

  37. I actually believe that the best center of all time should be Jarbar because he DOMINATED the 70s AND the 80s. Shaq is very dominated too, but he only had 4 titles(the 4th one was because Wade). He could have won more if not because Duncan. I know you said the past three decades, but I don’t expect bill Russel.

  38. And on place No 11 is Vlade Divac :) Jokes aside, i agree taht Shaq was the most dominant figure in the paint in the last 10 years. He has few titles and no way one can name a better position 5 player of the decade

  39. i seen hakeem play i feel everyone he was crazy good. but i mean shaq got 4 rings..if he was better then shaq why he only have 2..oh yeah that mj dude…but how may times did they even get 2 the ship cuz shaq was there on the regular

  40. Hakeem is number 1. By Far.

  41. Kareem’s 9 or 10 years in the 80′s should rank him among the top 10centers of the last 30 years. More impact than Yao or Parrish at he very least. Just counting Kareem’s numbers from the 80′s.

  42. Olajuwon is better than Shaq period. Shaq was barely a better scorer than Olajuwon. Shaq had always been on great teams stacked with talent.Shaq in his prime can’t beat Olajuwon in his prime.Shaq was a pretty good defender but Olajuwon was light years ahead of Shaq just look at the blocks and steals really carefully.Than when it comes to playoff time, look at who steps their game up,Olajuwon does Shaq doesn’t. Olajuwon had no weakness in his game while Shaq had plenty to exploit.Shaq can’t even stay in the game if the game was so close, he becomes a cheerleader. Shaq dominated one of the weakest decade of baskeball especially at the center position during the 2000 decade. Dreams 2 rings look better than Shaq 4 rings. Dream >Shaq

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