Trevor Freeman
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March 9 - Centers

So I finish up my weekly podcasts yesterday and I’m settling in to watch a little Wright State versus
Butler.  Because there was a berth into the NCAA Tournament at stake, I decided to honor the
moment with a Yuengling.  The conversation in my head where I convinced myself that this game was
worth drinking for is a different story for a better time.  I boot up my e-mail and in it I find this gem from
my friend LeAndre…..

“Trevor, did you see ESPN’s Top Ten Centers list.  I demand an article ripping them to shreds.  Bill
Walton?!?!?!?”

Ask and you shall receive.  First off, this does not surprise me in the least.  The people they currently
employ to cover the NBA over at ESPN should have gotten “Next” and moved over to analyzing the
New York Liberty and Los Angeles Sparks two years ago.  I mean when your NBA Draft “expert” (the
venerable Chad Ford) is posting a 2007 NBA Draft Big Board that currently has Yi Jianlian, Brook
Lopez and Spencer Hawes ahead of Acie Law IV, then quite frankly you have handed over credibility in
terms of evaluating the game of basketball.  Ranking those three ahead of Law IV is like arguing that
Selma Blair, Lisa Kudrow and Ashlee Simpson have better breasts than Jessica Biel.

I could argue the whole list (for those who have not had a chance to read it, feel free to click on the link
in the appendix below).  And boy are there some controversial calls.  Kareem over Russell.  Willis
Reed not making the list.  However I am going to focus strictly on the worst announcer to ever
announce a professional basketball game.  The guy who has openly forced people to watch games
on mute with music on the background.  The “Big Know It All”…..Bill Walton.  

Ranking Walton amongst the top ten centers is like arguing that “Joe Versus The Volcano” is one of
the best ten movies Tom Hanks has ever made.  Let’s take a test shall we.  I’m going to line up
Center A, Center B, Center C and Center D and I am going to let you rank them.

Center A                                Center B

15 seasons                                14 seasons
13.2 points per game                        12.9 points per game
6.3 rebounds per game                        9.7 rebounds per game
0.7 blocked shots per game                0.9 blocked shots per game
12,713 career points                        13,790 career points
6,106 career rebounds                        10,400 career rebounds
3 NBA Championship Rings                2 NBA Championship Rings

Center C                                      Center D                  

10 seasons                                15 seasons
13.3 points per game                        14.8 points per game
10.5 rebounds per game                6.1 rebounds per game
0.7 blocked shots per game                1.3 blocked shots per game
6,215 career points                        12,871 career points
4,923 career rebounds                        5,277 career rebounds
2 NBA Championship Rings                0 NBA Championship Rings

Wouldn’t you rank Center B first overall due to longevity and durability with Center A, Center C and
Center D all about the same?  Well Center B is Bill Laimbeer, Center A is Bill Cartwright, Center C is
Bill Walton and Center D is Rik Smits.  The only way Cartwright and Smits get into the Hall of Fame is
if they A) Purchase a ticket or B) Smash in a Window.  In my opinion, Bill Laimbeer is a Hall of Famer
as you can make an outstanding argument that the Pistons do not win the NBA Championship if he is
not on the team.  He was Isiah Thomas’ personal bodyguard.  The Marty McSorley to Isiah’s Wayne
Gretzky.  

Now I am sure the argument will be………but Bill Walton was a dominant player even if it was only for
a couple seasons while Laimbeer was at most a great complimentary player.  However this is a
disingenuous argument, which is not based on fact.  If you compare Bill Walton’s peak years versus
Bill Laimbeer’s the difference is not significant.  Here is a look at what each player did over their best
three-year stretch.

Walton                                                        Laimbeer
                                                  
1976-1977  16.6 ppg. 13.4 rpg.                 1984-1985        17.3 ppg.  12.3 rpg.
1977-1978  18.6 ppg. 14.4 rpg.                1985-1986        17.5 ppg.  12.4 rpg.
1978-1979  18.9 ppg. 13.2 rpg.                1986-1987          16.6 ppg.  13.1 rpg.

If the goal of this list was to choose the best ten NBA centers of all-time then Bill Walton not only
shouldn’t have been on this list, he should not even have been considered.  His peak year numbers
are only marginally better than a guy like Bill Laimbeer who probably wouldn’t even get consideration
on a Top Twenty Centers of all-time list.  Plus his career numbers do not come close to Hall of
Famers that were omitted like Willis Reed or Robert Parish.

Bill Walton was what he was.  A great college center.  Perhaps the best college center of all-time.  
Let's just keep it at that.  The NBA’s Daily Dime Top Ten Center rankings……..the phrase one big
swing and a miss comes to mind…..

Appendix:

Top Ten Centers of All-Time According ESPN




If you have any questions or comments feel free to e-mail me at trevor.freeman@realityfanforum.com.