When we think about basketball players, the image of a tall, strapping person usually comes to mind. Tall people also frequently get the question about whether they play basketball. While this is admittedly a stereotype, it’s also true that the average height of NBA players was about six feet, seven inches in the period 1985 to 2006. The tallest players in the whole of NBA history measured around seven feet and seven inches.
These staggering heights are quite impressive, but what’s even more interesting is that there were several players who were of average height or even less. We’ll discuss some of them now:
Tyrone “Muggsy” Bogues – 5’3”
Tyrone “Muggsy” Bogues acquired his nickname from the neighborhood players he used to play with while growing up. The Name was given because of his adeptness at defense, which was so good that the others claimed it was almost like mugging. For now, Bogues holds the record for being the shortest player ever in NBA history.
Naturally, his height gave this particular player a lot of struggle within his career. While he had the talent, Blues has had to do a lot to prove himself almost every day of playing. At the end of it all, though, he was able to show his critics that he was just as deserving of a place in the NBA as the towering giants. His wife has given testament to the fact that Bogues takes any kind of discouragement as a personal challenge.
Even one of his ex-teammates, Larry Johnson, has said that Bogues’ energy seemed to fuel the whole team at times. Spud Webb, also one of the shortest NBA players around, has commented on Bogues’ sparkling performance, giving him the highest compliment he could.
Bogues was a member of the basketball team at Wake Forest University from 1983 to 1987. After his college graduation, he was selected for the NBA and played no fewer than 14 seasons. His most notable position was as the guard for the Charlotte Hornets. He then went on to become a basketball coach as well.
Monte Towe – 5’7”
At present, the average height of the American male is five feet, nine inches. This makes Monte Towe shorter than average in his country, but he was able to prove his worth on the court time and again. While Tow did start out as an underdog, all he wanted was a chance to play.
In the year 1972, Towe signed up to play with the NC State Wolfpack team while he was attending the North Carolina State University. His head coach had qualms about letting him pay and was even afraid that the other players might hurt Towe. However, Towe soon proved that all misgivings were unnecessary, as he became an essential on the basketball court. About two years after signing up, Towe was the one who led his team to win the national championship.
Louis “Red” Klotz – 5’7”
Louis “Red” Klotz had a thin frame that measured just about five feet and seven inches. While this did make him stand out among the other players, he had another defining feature: his carrot-top hair. However, his most famous achievement to date is putting together a whole team called the Washington Generals. This team has taken part in several exhibition matches with their rivals, the Harlem Globetrotters. The tradition has lasted for over half a century now.
Klotz played point guard for the Baltimore Bullet in the NBA, starting his NBA career in 1947. He bought the Philadelphia Sphas, an American Basketball League team, in 1952. The new name for this team was the Washington Generals. From that moment on, this team has been legendary–for steadily losing to their opponents (the latest victory was in 1971).
Klotz himself has been ‘praised’ for bringing out the skills in his opponent. However, losses aside, this player is a true basketball ambassador and has spread the love of this game around the globe. If you’d like to play a tribute game to Klotz, have an inflator on hand to ensure a firm basketball.
Anthony “Spud” Webb – 5’7”
Spud Webb is yet another NBA player who stood at only five feet, seven inches. He also did’ let his height discourage him from trying and succeeding at building a basketball career. Webb played the point guard position and was in 814 NBA games during his stint. He also averaged an impressive 9.9 point in all these games.
Web first attracted attention when he performed brilliantly in a game for his junior college team, the Midland College Chaparrals in 1982. The result was 93-88 in his team’s favor, and North Carolina State University still remembers him as a satellite leaping into orbit when he hit the court. After that game, NCSU also offered Webb as scholarship.
After his NCSU career, Webb signed a contract with the Atlanta Hawks and later with Orlando Magic, the Sacramento Kings, and the Minnesota Timberwolves. While he stood out as being one of the shortest NBA players ever, Webb also made a name for himself through his talent. One of his most remembered achievements to date is winning the NBA’s slam-dunk contest in 1986. For now, he’s the shortest player with this accomplishment.
“Wat” Misaka – 5’7”
At five feet and seven inches Wataru “Wat” Misaka was of small stature. While he did suffer from discrimination and prejudice during his formative years, these were mostly due to his Japanese heritage rather than his height.
Misaka was born in Utah, and was a high schooler when World War II started. Afterward, he enrolled in the University of Utah and became a part of their basketball team, the Utah Utes. His contribution helped his team to win the NCAA championship in 1944. However, he left college and served in the US Army for a couple of years. He interviewed the survivors of the atomic bombing in Hiroshima during this time, and derived the experience as being in a no man’s-land since he was viewed as a traitor by many.
Coming back to basketball, though, Misaka was definitely an equal. After his Army service, he went back to the University of Utah and led the college basketball team to victory in the NIT (National Invitation Tournament) championship.
After this success, Misaka played briefly in the NBA, which was then called the Basketball Association of America. He was the first non-Caucasian and the first Asian-American who participated in this league. His name was inducted in the Utah Sports Hall of Fame in 1999.
The above discussion might have made you want to play a game of hoops on your porch, so make sure you have the perfect basketball rack to protect your equipment. In any case, the examples of these ‘short’ NBA players prove that anyone can probably follow their dreams if they’re passionate enough. While these players might not have the usual height for it, they still had a pretty impressive basketball career.