BASKETBALL IS A SPORT OF GIANTS, ISN’T IT?
Generally speaking, it is.
But, there are exceptions to the rule.
… And sometimes the shortest players can make history on the court.
These exceptional players are, in some cases, the best dunkers or hall of famers.
So, height doesn’t prevent a really talented basketball player to achieve his dream and play in the NBA.
In fact, a couple of short guys are among the best dunkers of all times in the NBA and some others, made a long career despite their height.
AND THEY MADE HISTORY!
BUT… WHO WERE THE SMALLEST BASKETBALL PLAYERS WHO MADE HISTORY IN THE NBA?
Tyrone Curtis Bogues was born in Baltimore, Maryland and he’s the smallest basketball player to ever play in the NBA.
He’s only 5’3″ when the average NBA player is about 6’7″ tall, currently.
And overcoming this drawback made Muggsy an inspiration in the NBA World.
He always knew playing in the NBA was against all odds, but he became the shortest player to reach the NBA anyway.
Actually, he turned this disadvantage into an advantage as he was known for his fast game, dribbling skill and game vision.
And he had a long career!
Muggsy played at Wake Forest University and later, he reached the NBA in 1987, playing for:
✓ Washington Bullets (1987-1988)
✓ Charlotte Hornets (1988-1997)
✓ Golden State Warriors (1997-1999)
✓ Toronto Raptors (1999-2001)
In sum, Muggsy played in the NBA for 15 seasons, almost 900 regular-season games and 19 Playoffs.
Not bad for a 5’3″ player!
By the way, he was a big star on and off the court, and he even appeared in the movie Space Jam in 1996.
Anthony Jerome Webb was born in Dallas, Texas.
He was a 5’6” player, and only 2 players were shorter than him in the NBA history, Muggsy Bogues and Earl Boykins.
The nickname Spud is a shortening of Sputnik (the Soviet satellite).
He wasn’t in the outer space but he used to jumped really high and he even won a Slam Dunk Contest in 1986.
As a short player in the NBA, Webb had a hard time making a name for himself in basketball.
Spud didn’t get a place to play in high school due to his height and he was rejected several times until he managed to convince the coach… and in his first game he scored 20 points!
Then, he played for Midland College and NC University, and made his debut in the NBA in 1985.
And he ended up playing 12 seasons in his NBA career.
✓ Atlanta Hawks (1985-1991, 1995-1996)
✓ Sacramento Kings (1991-1995)
✓ Minnesota Timberwolves (1996)
✓ Orlando Magic (1998)
However, the most important moment of his career is when he won the Slam Dunk Contest in 1986, in Dallas, the city he was born.
He surprised everyone because he competed with the best dunkers in the NBA, and legends like Michael Jordan.
AND HE’S STILL THE SHORTEST PLAYER TO PARTICIPATE IN THE SLAM DUNK CONTEST AND SURELY, THE SMALLEST PLAYER TO WIN THE SLAM DUNK CONTEST.
By the way. here you can watch WEBB’S PERFORMANCE IN THE 1986 SLAM DUNK:
Another short but inspiring player was Nate Robinson.
Nathaniel Cornelius Robinson was born in Seattle, Washington.
He attended the University of Washington on a football scholarship before deciding to focus on basketball.
And he was selected in the first round of the 2005 NBA draft to start an 11-seasons career.
Robinson is just 5’9”, but he had a long career as he played for:
✓ New York Knicks (2005–2010)
✓ Boston Celtics (2009–2011)
✓ Oklahoma City Thunder (2011)
✓ Golden State Warriors (2011–12)
✓ Chicago Bulls (2012–2013)
✓ Denver Nuggets (2013–2015)
✓ Los Angeles Clippers (2015)
✓ New Orleans Pelicans (2015)
But, the most curious fact about his career is THAT HE WON THE SLAM DUNK CONTEST 3 TIMES (2006, 2009 and 2010).
He was a short player, but one of the best dunkers in history!
JUST TAKE A LOOK AT HIS PERFORMANCE IN SLAM DUNK CONTENTS:
Isaiah Thomas was born on February 7, 1989, in Tacoma, Washington.
And he’s a 5’9” active player.
He played for University of Washington for 3 seasons and, in 2011, he gave up his last season as a college player to play in the NBA.
Isaiah started playing for Sacramento Kings and he is still active in his career.
Particularly, he has played for:
✓ Sacramento Kings (2011–2014)
✓ Phoenix Suns (2014–2015)
✓ Boston Celtics (2015–2017)
✓ Cleveland Cavaliers (2017–2018)
✓ Los Angeles Lakers (2018)
✓ Denver Nuggets (2018–2019)
✓ Washington Wizards (2019–2020)
And similar to Spud Webb and Nate Robinson, he was a spectacular dunker, showing once again that short players can be great dunkers!
THESE PLAYERS WERE NBA STARS IN SPITE OF THEIR HEIGHT… and there are more stories of short players who reached the highest levels playing basketball such as:
Earl Antoine Boykins was born in 1976, in Cleveland, Ohio.
And he was a 5’5” player.
He started his basketball career at Eastern Michigan University and later, he was hired by New Jersey Nets, becoming the second smallest player in the NBA.
Earl played for:
✓ New Jersey Nets (1999)
✓ Cleveland Cavaliers (1999, 2000)
✓ Orlando Magic (1999)
✓ Los Angeles Clippers (2001–2002)
✓ Golden State Warriors (2002–03)
✓ Denver Nuggets (2003–2007)
✓ Milwaukee Bucks (2007, 2011)
✓ Charlotte Bobcats (2008)
✓ Washington Wizards (2009–10)
His career was 11 years long, which is a huge success considering the low likelihood of being selected to play in the NBA for a 5’5” guy.
Greg Grant was born in Trenton, New Jersey; and he also proved that short guys can do well on the court.
He is just 5’7” which is a drawback in the land of the giants.
In fact, he had to face the same prejudices that all short basketball players suffer… but he never surrendered.
Greg played college basketball for Morris Brown and TCNJ.
However, he was rejected by many NBA coaches until Grant was drafted by the Phoenix Suns in 1989.
Later, he had a good NBA career playing for:
✓ Phoenix Suns (1989–1990)
✓ New York Knicks (1990–1991)
✓ Charlotte Hornets (1991–1992)
✓ Philadelphia 76ers (1991–1992, 1992–1993, 1995–1996)
✓ Washington Bullets (1995–1996)
✓ Denver Nuggets (1994–1995, 1995–1996)
Kahlil Ameer “Kay” Felder was born in Detroit, Michigan.
And he was a 5’9” NBA player.
Kay played for Oakland University and then, he was chosen in the NBA draft and played for Cleveland Cavaliers and 2 more teams.
✓ Cleveland Cavaliers (2016–2017)
✓ Chicago Bulls (2017)
✓ Detroit Pistons (2018)
He’s still an active player, so he may come back to the NBA in the future and continue showing that height is not all in basketball.
Finally, there were other short players that made a difference in the NBA and have interesting records such as:
✓ Mel Hirsch (5 ft 6 in) who was the shortest player to ever play in the NBA before Muggsy Bogues.
✓ Red Klotz (5 ft 7 in) who is the shortest player to win an NBA championship.
✓ Calvin Murphy (5 ft 9 in) who is the shortest NBA player in the Hall of Fame.
Being a short player is undoubtedly a huge disadvantage in basketball.
And basketball is a competitive sport full of tall players, who have been as tall as 7’7”, like Gheorghe Mureşan or 7’6”, like Manute Bol.
So, it’s a David versus Goliath fight for many short players.
However, the short players mentioned above are examples that it’s not impossible to succeed in the NBA being short.
Look at Muggsy Bogues!
He is the smallest player who has ever been in the NBA and he’s still remembered as a big star… so it takes more heart than height to succeed anyway.
In short, these players showed that size doesn’t matter when you’re an extraordinary player!