When normally thinking of a center in the NBA, two distinctly different images often come to mind: either a lanky, uncoordinated oaf (think Hasheem Thabeet or Shawn Bradley), or someone who completely dominates all aspects of the game (perhaps Wilt Chamberlain or Shaquille O’Neal). While most centers exist somewhere somewhere in the middle, there is no doubting that the position has played a pivotal role in shaping NBA basketball throughout the game’s history.
Centers like George Mikan and Chamberlain were so influential that they caused rules to be changed. Bill Russell is one of the icons of American sports. And today’s birthday boy, Shaquille O’Neal, brought a level of athleticism paired with physical dominance that the league had never seen out of the position before.
While center is not always the most glamorous position, many of the all-time greats made it seem that way thanks to not just their size, but their ability to harness their athleticism and create a devastating combination that allowed them to have long, prosperous professional careers. While there have been many good ones over the years, these are the 25 Greatest Centers in NBA History.