The center (C), also known as the five or the big man, is one of the five positions in a regulation basketball game. The center is normally the tallest player on the team, and often has a great deal of strength and body mass as well.
The tallest player to ever be drafted in the NBA or the WNBA 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.
History of the center position
Emergence of the center and the era of George Mikan
The center is considered a necessary component for a successful team, especially in professional leagues such as the NBA. Great centers have been the foundation for most of the dynasties in both the NBA and NCAA. The 6’10" (2.08 m) George Mikan pioneered the Center position, shattering the widely held perception that tall players could not develop the agility and coordination to play basketball well, and ushering in the role of the dominant big man. He led DePaul University to the NIT title, then, after turning professional, won seven National Basketball League, Basketball Association of America and NBA Championships in his ten-year career (1946–56), nine of them with the Minneapolis Lakers. Using his height to dominate opposing players, Mikan invented the hook shot and the shot block; as a consequence, the NCAA, and later NBA, adopted the goaltending rule, and, in 1951, the NBA widened the foul lane, a decision known as the 'Mikan rule'.