They've held down the paint while swatting away ill-advised field-goal attempts. After all, here's a quick recap of what he accomplished before his league merged with the NBA in 1976: But even with that part of his resume stricken from the record books—these are rankings of NBA players, after all—Gilmore is one of the all-time best to suit up at the center position. He'd come back for one ill-fated season with the Milwaukee Bucks three years later, but that did nothing more than depress his career stats. His very best season was one of his first two with the Celtics, and he averaged 19.4 points, 10.1 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game over the course of those two campaigns. However, that doesn't make him the greatest player, or even the greatest center. Alonzo Mourning always prided himself on that end of the court, and it paid rather large dividends. If only Patrick Ewing had been able to get over the hump and win a championship. But that pesky injury imp had other plans. 1 and No. He hung along for far too long, playing himself into shape during the regular season so he'd be ready come playoff time. "Well, Charlie was wrong. An LMVP can go to a player on the best team in the league, but it can also be handed to a player who was essentially a one-man wrecking crew on one of the bottom feeders. Nonetheless, he strode out of the Madison Square Garden tunnel, shocked the crowd, inspired his teammates and scored the first four points for his team. During his MVP-winning 1972-73 campaign, he was an unstoppable force, averaging 20.5 points, 16.2 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game. That was Cowens with a girlfriend. Russell was the first player in NBA history to average 20 rebounds in a season. After all, the NBA as a whole shot 35.7 percent during that 1950-51 campaign. His 1999-00 campaign for the Los Angeles Lakers may well be the very best, as he averaged 29.7 points, 13.6 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 3.0 blocks per game while leading the NBA in scoring, field-goal percentage, PER, offensive win shares, defensive win shares and win shares per 48 minutes. At his best, O'Neal was a constant source of quotes, nicknames and games that stacked up to turn into some of the most dominant seasons we've ever seen, regardless of position. Wilt Chamberlain (above, center) is the greatest NBA center of all time by our account, as The Stilt’s mastery of the game and statistical output were comparable to a video game character. Though he might not have won LMVP at any point in his career, he did manage to record three top-four finishes while leading his team in win shares eight different times. The lane was widened to slow him down, if that puts things in perspective. He just didn't have his Robin in place until Duncan came along and created a constant argument as to which one of them was Batman. One of the best centers in the NBA since the late 2000s, Marc Gasol is a 3-time All-Star and 2-time All-NBA member. He did all the unspectacular things that led to glamorous victories. Was he the third wheel? He exited as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, boasting more points than any other player (past, present or—though he wouldn't know it—future) in NBA history. Sadly, there's a trio of factors working against him. Rather than arbitrarily selecting his best season, we're meshing together the best performances of his career for each per-game stat. Think back to his best days with the Magic, when opponents had to plan around either letting him dominate one-on-one matchups on the interior or risk the bevy of shooters torching them from the perimeter while they paid more attention to the force in the middle. Mourning was never really "the man" on his most successful teams, but he thrived as a second fiddle and defensive stalwart for so many years. Reed had torn a thigh muscle earlier in the series, and after sitting out Game 6, there was no way he'd be able to play in the concluding game of the interconference clash. … Rather than only rewarding the LMVP, we're giving credit to every player who was the top contributor for his team during a given season. Do they sleep in the same bed together? That year, his Career Contributions score was a stellar 30.28, nearly double his career average. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain, George Mikan and Shaquille O'Neal are all centers who have played for the Lakers. Note: All stats come from Basketball-Reference.com and are current through March 21, unless otherwise indicated. But the game was just so different when Mikan thrived. Instead, it's merely to recognize just how good Russell's team was, and that makes it a bit harder for him to excel as an individual. The one-time ABA champion was named to six ABA All-Star squads and became a one-time NBA All-Star with the Denver Nuggets in 1977. Of course, it wasn't as if he was a slouch on the offensive end, either. He peaked early on in his NBA tenure, dominating the league from the center position for a few years before tailing off in his late 20s and early 30s. Having him outside the top five might seem downright blasphemous, especially given his uniqueness, sheer dominance in the post, MVP trophy to his credit and two rings on his fingers. Of course, he also won a title with the Bullets later in his career, just to add one more honor to the brimming-over resume.
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