Survival of the biggest

These posts are proof the traditional center is extinct

Originally Published: February 8, 2013
By Elena Bergeron | ESPN The Magazine
nerlens noelJames Crisp/AP ImagesKentucky's Nerlens Noel is just one example of how big men have avoided the fate of "centers."

JUST A SEASON AGO, the NBA All-Star ballot would have lumped a versatile, light-footed big man like Chris Bosh into the same category as a back-to-the-basket plodder like Dwight Howard, simply because they shared the label "center." But in a step out of the dark ages -- or at least the 1980s -- the league replaced the center with a third "frontcourt" spot on the ballot for this year's game. "It just seemed outdated and didn't represent the way our game has evolved," explains NBA exec Stu Jackson. Wait until he sees what's coming next. The progression of big men has long been evident at the college level. Look no further than this year's draft crop, each player employing a unique evolutionary advantage that has sent drop-stepping behemoths closer to extinction.