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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Is Center Position Dead?


Anthony Davis, Center for the New Orleans Pelicans.

There was a time, long ago, when giants ruled the game of basketball. Those who towered over the competition claimed all the championships of their time. That time is not now.

Basketball is on the brink of extinction because of the woeful fate of those gigantic centers that were once so common. The giant Bill Russell and the demi-god Wilt Chamberlain scoff at the height of today’s centers. Even a generation or two ago, we had Hakeem Olajuwon, the man with a thousand moves, and David Robinson, the admiral who never let a bucket through. Those were the days.

Now, look at the dearth in the center position today.

Yes, let us peer into the deserted landscape. How sad is Demarcus Cousins, that as a man whose career averages 21.2 points, 10.8 rebounds, and three assists per game, is scoffed at by the oldies? He can’t even lift a candle to a center like Patrick Ewing! The greatest center in Knicks history who averaged less points, less rebounds, and less assists? No, Cousins is an anomaly in today’s game; he is a one-of-a-kind type of player.

Let’s discuss Karl Anthony Towns. What flaming garbage—a man who was drafted first and only amounted to 25.1 points and 12.3 rebounds per game while shooting nearly 37 percent from the three and 54 percent from the field… What?

Put aside my sarcasm and simply take a look at the empirical evidence above. Those of the older generation love talking and reminiscing about the old times. Think about the times when your parents made it seem like they had a 10 mile run to school every day. It’s the same concept. While they understand that there is an evolution happening, they can’t help but hold on to their own sense of pride which, sadly, ends up putting down the current generation of basketball players. To claim that the center position is dying is one of the most irritating comments that I have heard throughout this decade.

In the NBA today, the focus is always on the point guard; that is inevitable. Although the older NBA critics will have you believe otherwise, the NBA in the past was not always center focused. The ‘90s were dominated by similarly dominant shooting guards because of the Michael Jordan effect. The ‘80s were replete with searches for 6’9” players that did everything due to the dominance of Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. Only the ‘70s and ‘60s saw a pure focus on finding the next pivotal center. It’s not like this was always a league of bigs. If anything, this generation has the greatest pool of centers the NBA has ever seen. Only now has the finesse of European basketball meshed with the bully ball mentality of the American players, this combination created our modern day center.

The ‘90s was a period many doting fans harken back to, so let me please ask: besides a young Shaq, Olajuwon, Robinson, and Ewing, who was good back then? Which centers were actively harassing the bigs mentioned before and made the NBA a “big man’s” league? There were none. In fact, TNT Sports analyst Kenny “The Jet” Smith said that “Hakeem took nights off. He said ‘I feel bad for you Kenny, you play every night. I only have to play four games a year.’” We only exaggerate the “lack” of bigs in the league because we have been so focused on the point guards of our generation.

Stop whining about the center position dying. Not only is it sustaining, it’s growing. Centers today are bigger, faster, and honestly more skilled than their predecessors. The mentality of hating on the newer generation is getting on the nerves of sports fans. Out with the old, and in with the new, please.