Throughout the storied history of the LA Lakers, many legendary players have represented the great NBA franchise. From Wilt Chamberlain in the early 1970s to Shaq during the 2000s, the LA Lakers have seen some dominant centers in their days of glory.
In this article, we take a look at the LA Lakers's top 5 greatest centers of all time. With so many dominant centers leading the LA Lakers to NBA glory over the decades, there is much to know about these Lakers legends.
Top 5 greatest centers of all time for the LA Lakers
Let us now take a look at the greatest centers of all time for the Lakers after they moved from Minneapolis to Los Angeles.
#5 Andrew Bynum
Career stats: 11.5 points, 7.7 rebounds, 1.6 blocks per game
Andrew Bynum was drafted right out of high school by the LA Lakers with the tenth overall pick in 2005. Bynum was a dominant post player with great rebounding and shot-blocking abilities, but his career was unfortunately severely affected by constant injuries.
While he was playing at his best, he was one of the best centers in the league. His contributions to the LA Lakers' titles in 2009 and 2010 are why he is in the fifth spot in this list of the LA Lakers' top 5 greatest centers of all time.
#4 Pau Gasol
Career stats: 17 points, 9.2 rebounds, 1.6 blocks per game
Pau Gasol was acquired by the LA Lakers in 2008 as a replacement for Andrew Bynum, who went down with a knee injury. Gasol was immediately effective for the LA Lakers as they made it to the NBA Finals that year.
Over the next 6 years, Paul Gasol teamed up with Kobe Bryant to lead the LA Lakers to two NBA titles in 2009 and 2010. Gasol was a skillful big man with great shotmaking abilities. His ability to block shots and pass the ball made him a rare talent for the center position.
Throughout his illustrious NBA career, he had 6 All-Star appearances and was also the 2002 NBA Rookie of the Year. Pau Gasol's immense contributions to the team give him the fourth spot on this list of the LA Lakers' top 5 greatest centers of all time.
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#3 Wilt Chamberlain
Career stats: 30.1 points, 22.9 rebounds per game
There is no doubt that the great Wilt Chamberlain belongs on this list of all-time great centers for the LA Lakers. Despite playing towards the end of his career from 1968-1973, Chamberlain was instrumental in the LA Lakers' 1972 Championship victory.
Wilt Chamberlain is arguably the most dominant player of all time. During his time with the LA Lakers, he won the rebounding title four times in five seasons and averaged nearly 20 rebounds a game. His partnership with Jerry West made the Lakers a powerhouse in the Western Conference.
Despite his diminishing physical prowess, Wilt Chamberlain was by far the most dominant center of the league during his LA Lakers days. While blocks were not counted during those days, it is widely accepted that he is also the greatest shot-blocker ever.
His ability to rack up points, rebounds, and wins were (and still are) simply unparalleled and earn him the third spot on this list of the LA Lakers' top 5 greatest centers of all time.
#2 Shaquille O'Neal
Career stats: 23.7 points, 10.9 rebounds, 2.3 blocks per game
Shaquille O'Neal is one of the most dominant players in the modern NBA. He was at the peak of his career during his LA Lakers years from 1996 to 2004. During this period, the LA Lakers won three titles back to back from 2000 to 2002 and made the Finals four times.
Shaq aka Diesel was a beast in the interior. There was almost no way to guard him without fouling him. His ability to get to the basket and dunk made him lethal on the offensive end. In a game with no rule against hand-checking, he was deadly on the defensive end.
Shaq brought back the glory days of the LA Lakers along with Kobe Bryant during their three-peat. During his 8 years with LA Lakers, he averaged 27 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 3.1 assists a game. His absolute dominance of the league during that time earns him the second spot on this list of the LA Lakers' top 5 greatest centers of all time.
#1 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Career stats: 24.3 points, 10.5 rebounds, 2.4 blocks per game
To top of this list of great big men we have the Captain himself - Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He spent 14 years with the LA Lakers from 1975 to 1989. During this period, he played alongside Magic Johnson to bring the LA Lakers 5 NBA titles.
During his early years with the LA Lakers, Abdul-Jabbar was the focal point of the offense with his deadly 'skyhook'. During later years, his game evolved to suit the fast-break style of play that the Showtime Lakers ran in the 1980s. His ability to block shots with ease made him a great defensive player, and he made the All-NBA Defensive team 11 times in his career.
Abdul-Jabbar was part of the great LA Lakers teams that beat the Boston Celtics in the 1985 NBA Finals and brought life back to one of the greatest rivalries in basketball. He was also the Finals MVP in the 1985 Finals against the Celtics.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is undoubtedly one of the greatest players to ever don the purple and gold and tops off our list of the LA Lakers' top 5 greatest centers of all time.
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Published 04 Sep 2020, 23:13 IST