center

The center, colloquially known as the five or the big man, is one of the standard positions in a regulation basketball game and is commonly abbreviated “C”. The center is normally the tallest player on the team, and often has a great deal of strength and body mass as well. A typical NBA center is usually 6′ 10″ (2.08 m) or taller. In many cases, the center’s primary role is to use his or her size to score and defend from a position close to the basket. A center who possesses size along with athleticism and skill constitutes an unparalleled asset for a team. The centers are also generally the players who are chosen to take jump balls. Although there are some exceptions, like Tim Duncan, who takes the jump ball for the Spurs. There has been occasional controversy over what constitutes a “true center”. For example, some would say that Tim Duncan, although listed throughout his career as a power forward, is actually a center, because of his size and style of play. Nonetheless, the judgment of whether a given player is a center or power forward is often highly subjective. Because there are currently so few people who meet the ideal size requirements of an NBA center, teams will sometimes find it necessary to play an individual at that position who would be more effective as a power forward. It should also be noted that centers and power forwards often have relatively low free throw percentages. Because of this, it is not uncommon for the opposing team to purposefully foul and therefore send them to the line, especially late in games. This has been a common strategy used against certain centers who have continuously struggled with free throws; examples include Wilt Chamberlain, Shaquille O’Neal, DeAndre Jordan, and Dwight Howard. The technique of fouling a poor free throw shooter in order to win back possession in the hope that the player will (as usual) miss his free throws is sometimes known as the Hack-a-Shaq strategy. Nevertheless, there are centers who are particularly accurate from the free throw line, such as retired Lithuanian great Arvydas Sabonis or his retired countryman Žydrūnas Ilgauskas, the latter of whom is one of the few centers along with Yao Ming in the NBA regularly assigned to shoot free throws after technical fouls. Centers are among the leaders in blocks and rebounds and are said to “anchor” defenses. It is common for centers to roam the paint, and therefore block a high number of shots, especially when their man does not have the ball. The tallest player to ever be drafted in the NBA was the 7’8″ (2.33 m) Yasutaka Okayama from Japan, though he never played in the NBA. The tallest players to ever play in the NBA, at 7’7″ (2.31 m), are centers Gheorghe Mureșan and Manute Bol. Standing at 7’2″ (2.18 m), Margo Dydek is the tallest player to have ever played in the WNBA.