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Who takes center spot for Top-5 All-Time NBA?


My previous article on the Top 5 NBA players of all-time drew a lot of controversy, and I expect this one will do the same. I am solid and unmovable on my choices at the guard and forward slots - Larry Bird and Lebron James take the two front court positions, while Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan occupy the guards slots.

Younger responders will often tend to go with more-recent stars, and that showed in the Twitter posts. The major question seems to "center" around the five spot. The names of Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain and Shaquille O"Neal all showed up in the discussion.

I find it hard to argue with those that pick Wilt, Shaq or Kareem to fill the center spot. All three merit serious consideration. Wilt was huge, powerful and dominant. He racked up two Titles on two different teams - once scored 100 points in a single game - averaged 27 rebounds per game in his second NBA season - and became the only center to lead the League in assists (8.6 APG in 1967-68).

Kareem and Shaq were also unstoppable in their own eras, with Jabbar playing more of a finesse game - while O'Neal was a powerhouse down low. But if I want to win a game or series with Larry, Michael, Magic and Lebron on the floor, I put Bill Russell in the middle.

Why? Superb defense, rebounding, rim protection, strong will, athleticism, mobility and IQ. Yes, IQ! The knowledge of how to play the game and win the contest. And the will to make it happen. With such an elite quartet beside you, savvy is what is required from the center slot. There is no wrong answer to choosing the top center of all time when the question is broken down to these four "fives". All four were superbly skilled, but Russ was the smartest of them all.



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