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Lakers' centerpieces

October 31, 2008|Broderick Turner

They all have been towering presences over the basketball landscape, some of the best centers to have played the game, each dominated the NBA and help make up the lineage of great Lakers centers over the last six decades. This line began with George Mikan, when the team was in Minneapolis. It grew in stature when "The Big Dipper," Wilt Chamberlain, was acquired by the Lakers in 1968. It stayed the course when the Lakers traded for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1975. And it continued down the road of success when the Lakers signed Shaquille O'Neal as a free agent in 1996. The Lakers have now put their faith and money in 21-year-old Andrew Bynum, but it will take some work for Bynum to reach the level of his predecessors.

George Mikan with Lakers 1948-56

Considered the first great NBA center. Won four NBA championships with the Minneapolis Lakers (1950, '52, '53, '54) and two when the Lakers played in the National Basketball League ('47, '48). Led the NBA in scoring three times, his high-water mark 28.4 points a game in 1951. MVP of the NBL ('48). Made the All-NBA first team six times and was a four-time All-Star. Selected for the Hall of Fame in 1959. Named one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history.

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Wilt Chamberlain with Lakers 1968-73

He was known for his power and finger roll. The Lakers acquired him in a trade with Philadelphia. He averaged 30.1 points, 22.9 rebounds and 4.4 assists over his 14-year NBA career, five with the Lakers. Shares NBA record for most consecutive seasons leading the league in scoring (seven). Averaged a record 50.4 points a game during the 1961-62 season, when he scored 100 points in a game. Led the NBA in rebounding 11 seasons, four with the Lakers. Won two NBA championships, one with the Lakers in 1972, when the franchise won its first title in Los Angeles. Won the MVP award four times. Selected for 13 All-Star games. Elected to the Hall of Fame in 1978. Named one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history.

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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar with Lakers 1975-1989

His sky hook made his mark on the NBA. The Lakers acquired him in a trade with the Milwaukee Bucks. He's the NBA's all-time leading scorer (38,387 points). He averaged 24.6 points, 11.2 rebounds and 3.6 assists a game over his 20-year career, 14 with the Lakers. He scored in double figures 787 consecutive games, an NBA record. Won six NBA titles, five with the Lakers. Won six MVP awards, the most in league history. Named to the all-NBA first team 10 times, selected to play in 19 All-Star games. Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1995. Named one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history.

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Shaquille O'Neal with Lakers 1996-2004

Known for his power game, athleticism, jovial attitude and for giving himself nicknames. The Lakers signed him as a free agent in 1996. Now in his 17th year in the NBA; played eight seasons with the Lakers. Entering this season, has a career scoring average of 25.6 points a game, ninth-highest in NBA history. He ranks 11th all-time in NBA scoring (25,908 points). He is a career 58% shooter from the field, third-highest in league history. Led the NBA in field-goal accuracy nine times, tying Wilt Chamberlain's all-time record. Has averaged 11.5 rebounds a game over his career. Won four NBA titles, three with the Lakers (2000-2002). Named the league's MVP (2000) and won the Finals MVP three times. Selected for 14 All-Star games. Named one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history.

--Broderick Turner

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