The Demise of the ‘Big Man’ in the NBA
American basketball player Wilt Chamberlain, wearing a University of Kansas uniform, sits in a chair and ties his shoelace. A basketball rests on the floor by his feet.   (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

The history of the NBA can be traced through the dominance of historic NBA centers. George Mikan, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Moses Malone, Hakeem Olajuwon, Tim Duncan, almost every major NBA dynasty was built around a big man. On offense, big men setup shop deep in the low post, often times with their back to the basket.

All of the best centers have a dependable jump hook with various counters and alternate moves. Successful teams take advantage of the matchup problems created by having a player taking so many high percentage shots near the basket and creating foul problems for the opposing team which benefit the entire team.

Big men gobble up rebounds, score on offensive putbacks, finish dunk and alley-oop plays, and set giant picks. To win a championship, you need your big man to play defense. Having a defensive presence which can alter shots, intimidate players, and clean the defensive glass is a necessity. They don’t need to block every shot, but big men do need to clog the middle of the lane and help out on the weakside to prevent easy baskets.

Next: The Problem with Big Men Today…

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