Shaquille O'Neal Retires: My Top 5 NBA Centers in the History of Ever

Shaq-Nellie.jpg
He had lotsa laughs ... at the expense of the Mavericks
When the NBA All-Star Game came to Dallas in February 2010 I got to hop in a Hummer limo. Driven by a big guy. Who had no use for road rules, or police barriers.

As he ran over a bunch of traffic cones and headed toward a security barricade in front of the Dallas Convention Center, police stopped the Hummer. But when the driver rolled down the window, the policeman just smiled and waved us through.

"Shaq," said the cop, "be careful in that big ol' thang."

And with that, Shaquille O'Neal threw the policeman an autographed jersey and proceeded to his curbside drop-off just outside the doors of the NBA All-Star Weekend Celebrity Game.

Shaq was always bigger than rules. Bigger than his opponents. And, yes, bigger than life.

The NBA will miss the behemoth who announced his retirement yesterday. He was always the biggest personality in the league.

But where does he rank among all-time centers?

5. Bill Russell -- 11 rings, but shot only 44% as a center and never averaged more than 18 points.

4. Shaquille O'Neal -- 4 rings, 5th all-time scoring and the most powerful force in NBA history.

3. Wilt Chamberlain -- Averaged 50 points and 25 rebounds in '62 and regularly dominated Russell.

2. Hakeem Olajuwon -- The most skilled offensive center in the history of basketball.

1. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar -- NBA all-time leader in points scored and minutes played and owner of the game's most lethal shot, the Sky Hook.


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32 comments
KTCKP1
KTCKP1

You give too much priority on scoring and not enough on defense - Russell was known as much for his defense and rebounding as for scoring. 

LD_Richardson
LD_Richardson

According to Sixer stat man Harvey Pollack, Wilt and Russell squared off 142 times.  Wilt averaged 28.7 points and 28.7 rebounds in those games.  Russell averaged 23.7 points and 14.5 rebounds against Wilt (Russell's career average was 22.5 and Wilt's was 22.9, so it sure looks like Russell wasn't controlling the boards in those games!)  Wilt had a 62 point game on January 14, 1962, in Boston and had 6 other games of 50 points against Russell.  The most Russell ever scored against Wilt was 37, and he had only two other 30-point games.   Team wise, the Celtics had better records against Wilt's teams.  Keep in mind that Russell's teams had a lot of Hall of Famers while a lot of Wilt's teams were Wilt and a plus 4 cast.

Wilt grabbed an NBA-record 55 rebounds against Russell on November 24, 1960, and had six other games of at least 40 rebounds against Russell. 

When the Sixers beat the Celtics in the 1967 playoffs, Wilt averaged 22 points, 32 rebounds, & 10 assists -- a triple double-- against Russell (considered by many the greatest defensive center of all time).  In the clinching game 5, he had 29 points, 36 rebounds, 13 assists and 12 blocks (unofficial as blocks were not official until 1973-74).

Richie's egomania
Richie's egomania

Greggo has just informed us that Nyquil makes snortable cough syrup that comes in a white powdery form.

Tad Banyon
Tad Banyon

Any list of great centers that omits Shawn Bradley is a joke

meh
meh

The names on RW's list are correct... the order is wrong.

5. Hakeem4. Shaq1c. Russell1b. Kareem1a. Wilt

that's better.

Numbers Guy
Numbers Guy

Hakeem Olajuwon -- The most skilled offensive center in the history of basketball -- !!!except for Wilt Chamberlain!!!.

DuckDuckGoose
DuckDuckGoose

Russell not rated #1?

Any sentence that starts "11 rings, but ..." shows you don't have a clue about why people play basketball. It's to WIN.

Just Me
Just Me

Wilt regularly dominated Russell?  I guess if wins and loses don't count you are right. 

Russell's record against Wilt: 84-58

Davy Crockett
Davy Crockett

What the hell, RW? The first two paragraphs do nothing but make you look like a bragging doucher.

therrick
therrick

Russell should be higher. He was never considered a big scorer but still avg. 15PPG over his career. He was a rebounder and the only one who had a higher career average was Chamberlain. Russell had 22.5 a game. Plus 11 rings in 13 season is fucking awesome.

Storm_71
Storm_71

Just so I get this straight Shaq drove YOU around in a Hummer Limo???????? Well when I think about it's not that hard to believe I mean Angelina Jolie is making me a sandwich right now. Wow lying is really not that hard once you get the hang of it.

TheRealDirtyP1
TheRealDirtyP1

Hard to argue with your list. For once I think you nailed a top 5. On the fringe you'd have Bill Walton and David Robinson no doubt. The cool thing about Shaq is he wasn't as limber as the other four, but a big brutal guy that would just push you to the hoop. Kareem moved more, and Hakeem had a decent jumper. On Russell's 44% average, was he shooting a lot of jumpers or what is that attributed to?  He was definitely a winner, had 5 league MVP's and from what I've read would be the all time leader in blocks if they would have tracked those. Averaged 22 rebounds a game and 4 assists? Wow.

Question, if you were drafting a team and could draft any of those guys at their prime, who would you take? I'd go with Shaq, I don't think Kareem could stop him on the block.

Mishon
Mishon

RW, I guess you tagged Don Nelson in this story b/c he is in the pic, but why was Mark Cuban tagged?

Just Me
Just Me

Russell played with 4 members of the NBA's Top 50 at 50.  Wilt played with 6.

Tad Banyon
Tad Banyon

I havent been listening but I flipped over long enough yesterday to hear Greggo do a promo, and he sounded like death. Is he sick again? What is he sick once a week now?

Em
Em

Exactly... and Manute Bol... the 7-foot-6 three-point threat...

TheRealDirtyP1
TheRealDirtyP1

We weren't talking about the biggest winners. It's hard to argue taking Russell over the other four guys. If you were a GM and had that opportunity, there's no way you can take him over the other guys. Russell didn't face near the talent the other guys have. His numbers are great and everything and so are the rings, but he was a giant playing against a bunch of RW's.  Having the best coach of the era as well as a great supporting cast didn't hurt either. He's no doubt the biggest winner of the crew, he has as many rings as the other 4 put together.

Wallyworldtx
Wallyworldtx

Yes, Shaq was driving.  He left from Frisco where he was staying and told my buddy to get out of the drivers seat because he wanted to drive.   -  Shaq actually had three places where he stayed during the all star weekend.  It's true.  -  WL 

Real Story
Real Story

And with that, Shaquille O'Neal threw the RW a can of Amor All and a rag and proceeded to tell him "easy on the wax build up there, Pedro".

Richie's egomania
Richie's egomania

He takes every opportunity he gets to brag about being around some celebrity and how coooooooool he is and all the cooool things he's doing.

Abc
Abc

Shaq hands down.  He's just such a physical force that he would be the best of any of them.  I'd take him 1 or 2 out of all players if I was trying to make a dominant team.

TheRealDirtyP1
TheRealDirtyP1

also tagged NBA Finals, and there's no mention of that anywhere in the article. Is this called "ghost-tagging" in blog circles?

Richie's egomania
Richie's egomania

Its most commonly refered to as "dope sickness". One will suffer from this while they are going through withdrawal are in Greggo's case waiting for their next "fix". He should get better now that he got his "cough syrup", he couldn't bring his "cough syrup" from home to Miami because of airport security but he manged to find some in Miami because its the coke capital of America.

kergo
kergo

Is this really The Wally Lynn?

Volta
Volta

bitter trolls

Rderrickwhite
Rderrickwhite

no way man.  kareem bulked up as the game (and his age) required.  i think that it's entirely plausable that if those two were matched up, in their prime, that kareem would have dominated him.

Mishon
Mishon

Yeah, the NBA Finals tagged confused me as well. But I was thinking he might have used it since he mentioned that Bill Russell had 11 rings and Shaq 4? Or maybe since Shaq retired while the NBA Finals were going on? It is a stretch either way.

K_bangle
K_bangle

It's because they are trying to attract larger reading circles.

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