Nowadays, it’s common for NBA players to hit the weight room regularly. Sometimes it feels like half of the players in the league could be playing linebacker or safety in the NFL. But some of the NBA’s stars of yesteryear could probably out-muscle most of today’s players. Even without the benefit of modern weight rooms or nutrition, the NBA has seen some absolute beasts over the years. Let’s take a look at the five strongest players in NBA history.
Ben Wallace (Pistons)
Wallace was always known more for his prowess on the defensive end of the court than his scoring ability. Of course, you don’t win Defensive Players of the Year without being crazy strong. During the prime of his career, Wallace was reportedly bench pressing 460 pounds. It’s that kind of strength that helped him average over 10 rebounds per game for seven straight seasons.
Karl Malone (Jazz)
Under his jersey, Malone had a body that was absolutely ripped. He was ahead of his time with regard to training and working out off the court. Malone viewed his strength and endurance as two of the biggest reasons why he was one of the best power forwards of all time. When he got the ball on the block, Malone was able to bully defenders, helping him win MVP honors twice and become a 14-time all-star.
Charles Barkley (76ers)
If you saw Barkley early in his career, you might say he was fat. But the truth is that he was strong and powerful. Listed at just 6’6’’, Barkley was undersized for a power forward. However, he was able to make up for his lack of height by being stronger than his opponents. Barkley turned any lingering fat from the early part of his career into muscle, which he used to become arguably the best rebounder of his generation, averaging at least 10 rebounds per game every season but his rookie year.
Shaquille O’Neal (Lakers)
You don’t get the nickname “The Diesel” without being strong. The NBA has seen plenty of 7’1’’ players over the years, but not many who are also 325 pounds. Shaq wasn’t good because he was tall and fat. He was strong, quick, and impossible to push around. If he wasn’t so strong and kept himself in such good shape, he never would have been able to play 19 seasons in the NBA and dominate the way he did.
Wilt Chamberlain (76ers)
If you ask anyone who saw Chamberlain play, they would likely tell you he was the strongest player in NBA history. He could score better than everyone else; he could rebound better than everyone else. But he was also able to play more minutes because of how strong and in-shape he was. Chamberlain entered the league weighing 250 pounds and eventually bulked up to over 300 pounds without losing a step. In his prime, he was said to bench over 500 pounds and even impressed Arnold Schwarzenegger, which tells you everything you need to know about Chamberlain’s strength.