When you participate in a sport, you know there are certain physical attributes that inherently put you at an advantage. For example, if we were choosing to place money on an American football team based on the way they looked; our NFL picks would go to the team that looked like they had both size and speed.
The NBA is even more reliant on genetics. It’s no surprise that middle school basketball coaches often pluck out students that are unusually tall-for-their-age to try out for the school’s basketball team. The rationale is simple. The height of the basketball hoop is exactly 10 feet high and players that are closer to the rim have an easier time with scoring around the basket, rebounding the ball and intimidating opponents..
1. Muggsy Bogues 5-3
At 5-foot-3-inch (1.60 m) Muggsy Bogues is the shortest player ever to play in the National Basketball Association (NBA). He played point guard for four teams during his 14-season career in the NBA mainly with the the Charlotte Hornets,
Despite his height, Bogues was a highly coveted playmaking prospect coming out of college. He was chosen by the Charlotte Hornets in the first round of the 1987 NBA draft with the 12th overall pick. He became one of only two players shorter than 6 feet (1.83 m) tall to play over 900 games in an NBA career. Calvin Murphy being the other one.
Even though he is the shortest player to ever play in the NBA, Bogues could still get above the 10-foot rim and put one down. We don’t think many would have taken the bet that Muggsy being able to dunk the ball, but according to Interbasket, the diminutive point guard was capable of dunking.
2. Earl Boykins 5-5
Earl Boykins retired from the NBA after fourteen seasons. Standing at only five feet, five inches tall, he is second shortest player in the history of the league. Though Boykins looked small, he was reportedly one of the teams strongest players when he played for the Washington Wizards.
“That’s amazing for a guy that little in stature, but he’s got a big heart,” Randy Foye said to the Washington Post, whose all-time max was about 290. “It’s just amazing to think about It like that, a guy that small can bench that much.”
Boykins played college ball for the Eastern Michigan Eagles then went undrafted.. He went on to play for the Cleveland Cavaliers, Orlando Magic, Denver Nuggets, Houston Rockets, Milwaukee Bucks, Charlotte Bobcats, and Golden State Warriors.
3. Mel Hirsch (5-6)
Standing one inch taller than Boykins is the third shortest players to ever play in the NBA is Mel Hirsch. This wonderful player born in 1921 and passing away from Leukemia in 1968, Hirsch played for the Boston Celtics of the Basketball Association of America, which would later become the National Basketball Association, for 13 games in the 1946–47 season. Though he wasn’t a great player when he arrived to the NBA, he’ll always be remembered as being one of the league’s shortest players in a professional sport that prioritizes players a foot taller.
Bogues, Boykins and Hirsch are the shortest players ever in the NBA and we wanted to pay tribute to those players that never got a second glance because of their height – probably because people couldn’t see them. These unusually short players broke all the rules and succeeded at the highest levels of professional basketball; all the while fighting uphill against their NBA odds and the idea that one had to be tall to play the game at its… highest levels