As TBCB begins to prepare our 1952-53 NBA season summary, we set the stage by sharing with you related facts, stories, and highlights. Today we feature Bill Walton, who was born in 1952, and who at least one well known basketball analyst considers the best center of all time.
One of the hottest basketball debates focuses on the best all-time players at any given position. This blog has recently been covering the late 1940s and early 1950s, and a discussion of the top centers of all time should always include George Mikan, who dominated pro basketball from his arrival in 1947 to initial departure in 1954. Other names that should also be part of the discussion include all-time greats like Dolph Schayes, Neil Johnston, Shaquille O'Neal, David Robinson, Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. From a statistical perspective, all of these men rank near the top of the list of all-time win shares per 48 minutes.
Another player often considered on the list of top centers but who typically gets ranked lower than some of the names mentioned above is Bill Walton. Maybe it's due to his injury prone career or because today's NBA fans are more likely to remember Walton for his love of the Grateful Dead, over-the-top announcing style, or his two-time NBA Champion son. But for whatever reason, Walton is often ranked lower on the list of all-time greats that he might otherwise deserve.
In the video below from the great blog BBallBreakdown, Coach Nick highlights game 6 of the 1977 NBA finals and makes a few points about why he thinks Bill Walton merits consideration as the best center of all time. I'm not a fan of subjective player rankings, but I respect Coach Nick's opinion, and he thinks that Walton deserves more credit than he usually gets due to his abilities on both the offensive and defensive end of the floor. I suggest you take a listen and give his comments some thought. The video also includes several great Dr. J highlights and some examples of bad defense by future coach Doug Collins.
Take a listen and then catch up with me on Twitter or via email to let me know your opinion. Is Walton as vastly underrated as Coach Nick thinks? Who makes your list of all-time great centers?