Top five shot blockers in NBA history

As the last line of defense, a shot blocker oftentimes erases the mistakes of his teammates while patrolling and protecting the paint. A paint-protecting big man can actually dissuade the opposing team from venturing into the lane. The mere presence of a bona fide shot blocker can impact a basketball game.

The top five shot blockers in NBA history have blocked 16,326 shot attempts. These men have been selected to 50 All-Star Games and have led the league in blocks 17 times. As a group they have earned Defensive Player of the Year honors nine times and have been named to 39 All-Defensive teams. Three of them are members of both the Basketball Hall of Fame and the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History.

Here is a list of the top five shot blockers in NBA history (as of April 9, 2011):

5. David Robinson (2,954 Career Blocks)
San Antonio Spurs (1989-2003)

With the strength of a bear and the grace and agility of a gazelle, Robinson disrupted opposing teams' offenses for 14 years. The 10-time All-Star (1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1998, 2000 and 2001) was named to eight All-Defensive teams (First Team: 1991, 1992, 1995 and 1996; Second Team: 1990, 1993, 1994 and 1998) and in 1992, he earned the Defensive Player of the Year Award. Robinson was the NBA blocks leader in 1991 and 1992. The 1995 Most Valuable Player was selected one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History in 1996 and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009.

4. Mark Eaton (3,064 Career Blocks)
Utah Jazz (1982-1993)

After rarely seeing the floor in his two season at UCLA, Eaton was drafted by the Jazz in the fourth round (72nd pick overall) of the 1982 NBA Draft. The 7-foot-4, 275-pound center was a behemoth of a man who clogged the paint with his sheer size. The 1989 All-Star won two Defensive Player of the Year Awards (1985 and 1989) and was the league leader in blocks four times (1984, 1985, 1987 and 1988). Eaton blocked an NBA record 456 shots during the 1984-1985 season and was named to five straight All-Defensive teams (First Team: 1985, 1986 and 1989; Second Team: 1987 and 1988).

3. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar formerly Lew Alcindor(3,189 Career Blocks)
Milwaukee Bucks (1969-1975)
Los Angeles Lakers (1975-1989)

Abdul-Jabbar, who is the NBA's all-time leading scorer, was a dominating force on both ends of the floor. "The Big Fella" won an NBA record six Most Valuable Player Awards (1971, 1972, 1974, 1976, 1977 and 1980) and was a 19-time All-Star (1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988 and 1989). He led the league in blocked shots four times (1976, 1977, 1979 and 1980) and was named to 11 All-Defensive teams (First Team: 1974, 1975, 1979, 1980 and 1981; Second Team: 1970, 1971, 1976, 1977, 1978 and 1984). In 1995, Abdul-Jabbar was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, and one year later, he was named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History.

2. Dikembe Mutombo(notes) (3,289 Career Blocks)
Denver Nuggets (1991-1996)
Atlanta Hawks (1996-2001)
Philadelphia 76ers (2001-2002)
New Jersey Nets (2002-2003)
New York Knicks (2003-2004)
Houston Rockets (2004-2009)

Known for his signature finger wag, Mutombo (who used the gesture whenever he blocked a shot) seemed to take it as a personal affront whenever an opponent scored on him. The eight-time All-Star (1992, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001 and 2002) was named to six All-Defensive teams (First Team: 1997, 1998 and 2001; Second Team: 1995, 1999 and 2002). Mutombo led the league in blocks an NBA record five straight times (1994, 1995, 1996, 1997 and 1998) and won an NBA record (shared with Ben Wallace(notes)) four Defensive Player of the Year Awards (1995, 1997, 1998 and 2001).

1. Hakeem Olajuwon (3,830 Career Blocks)
Houston Rockets (1984-2001)
Toronto Raptors (2001-2002)

A fixture of Houston basketball for two decades, Olajuwon led the Rockets to back-to-back NBA Championships in 1994 and 1995. The two-time Defensive Player of the Year (1993 and 1994) was selected to 12 All-Star Games (1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996 and 1997). "The Dream" led the league in blocked shots twice (1990 and 1993) and was named to nine All-Defensive teams (First Team: 1987, 1988, 1990, 1993 and 1994; Second Team: 1985, 1991, 1996 and 1997). Olajuwon was named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History in 1996 and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008.

Note: Blocks did not become an official NBA statistic until the 1973-1974 season.
Note: The first Defensive Player of the Year Award was awarded to Sidney Moncrief in 1983.

More NBA All-Time Leaders:

Top Five Assist Leaders in NBA History
Top Five Rebounders in NBA History
Top Five Scorers in NBA History

Information from Basketball-Reference.com's NBA Career Leaders for Blocks, David Robinson Career Statistics, Mark Eaton Career Statistics, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Career Statistics, Dikembe Mutombo Career Statistics, Hakeem Olajuwon Career Statistics, NBA 50 Greatest Basketball Players, NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award Winners and Los Angeles Times' He Can't Shoot but He Makes 4-Point Plays was used for this article.

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Updated Tuesday, Apr 12, 2011