Ralph Sampson

Cohen’s Analysis: When we reflect back on the best centers in NBA history, we think about Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Hakeem Olajuwon, Patrick Ewing, David Robinson, Shaquille O’Neal and even Dwight Howard. But almost never mentioned is Ralph Sampson, arguably the most highly touted collegiate player ever and a man who was unstoppable in his first few years in the NBA. He led the Rockets to the NBA Finals one season and was an All-Star Game MVP in another. He even connected on a game-winning shot to eliminate the highly favored Lakers in the 1986 Western Conference Finals.

However, shortly after all that success, Sampson began to develop chronic knee and back problems and was never the same player. He was eventually traded to Golden State and Sacramento before finishing his ephemeral NBA career in Washington in 1991.

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