Basketball Reference Blog
The Top 5 Shortest Players in NBA History
Posted by Vivek Singh on May 5, 2023
Basketball is a sport dominated by tall athletes. So, it’s no surprise that the most talented basketball league in the world; the NBA is full of athletic giants. The average height of a player in the NBA is around 6’7”.
However, that doesn’t mean that if you are not a gifted, supertall athlete then you can’t make it to the league. Today, we’ll have a look at the top 5 shortest players in NBA history and the top 5 shortest players in the NBA currently. These guys proved that size doesn’t always matter when it comes to playing basketball at the highest level. Their hard work, dedication, and perseverance have inspired countless young athletes to pursue their dreams, no matter what obstacles they may face.
Tyrone Curtis Bogues ▪ Twitter: MuggsyBogues
(Muggsy, Muggs, Apple, Billy, The Human Press, The Human Assist, The PT Boat)
Position: Point Guard ▪ Shoots: Right
5-3, 136lb (160cm, 61kg)
College: Wake Forest
High School: Paul Laurence Dunbar in Baltimore, Maryland
Draft: Washington Bullets, 1st round (12th pick, 12th overall), 1987 NBA Draft
NBA Debut: November 6, 1987
Career Length: 14 years
Muggsy Bogues, born on January 9, 1965, is a retired American professional basketball player. He is best known for his tenacious defense and exceptional ball-handling skills despite his small stature. Standing at only 5 feet 3 inches (1.60 m) tall, he is the shortest player in NBA history.
Bogues was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, and attended Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, where he played for a high school basketball team that was considered one of the best in the nation. He went on to play for Wake Forest University, where he was a standout point guard and set a record for the most career assists in ACC history.
In the 1987 NBA Draft, Bogues was selected 12th overall by the Washington Bullets. He spent a season with the Bullets before becoming a member of the Charlotte Hornets in 1991. It was with the Hornets that Bogues had his best years as a professional basketball player. He played alongside the likes of Larry Johnson and Alonzo Mourning, helping the Hornets reach the playoffs three times in four years.
Throughout his career, Bogues was known for his ability to steal the ball and his exceptional passing skills. He averaged 7.7 points, 7.6 assists, 2.6 rebounds, and 1.5 steals per game over his 14-year career in the NBA.
Bogues retired from professional basketball in 2001, and he now works as a basketball coach and motivational speaker. He has also appeared in several movies and television shows, including “Space Jam” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” Despite his small stature, Muggsy Bogues has become a legend in the NBA.
Earl Antoine Boykins
Position: Point Guard and Shooting Guard ▪ Shoots: Right
5-5, 135lb (165cm, 61kg)
College: Eastern Michigan
High School: Central Catholic in Cleveland, Ohio
NBA Debut: February 7, 1999
Career Length: 13 years
Earl Boykins is a former professional basketball player who made a name for himself in the NBA despite being one of the shortest players in the league’s history. At only 5’5″, Boykins had to rely on his exceptional quickness and agility to compete against players who were much taller and more physically imposing than him.
Born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1976, Boykins played college basketball at Eastern Michigan University. He went undrafted in the 1998 NBA draft but was eventually signed by the New Jersey Nets. Over the course of his career, Boykins played for a number of different teams, including the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Orlando Magic, and the Milwaukee Bucks, but he is perhaps best known for his time with the Denver Nuggets.
During his time in Denver, Boykins became a fan favorite thanks to his fearless play and his ability to score despite his diminutive stature. He was known for his lightning-fast crossovers and his ability to blow past defenders with ease. In one memorable game against the Dallas Mavericks in 2004, Boykins scored a career-high 32 points, including 15 in the fourth quarter, to lead the Nuggets to an improbable comeback victory.
Despite his size, Boykins was also a tenacious defender, using his speed and quickness to disrupt passing lanes and harass opposing ball-handlers. He was a two-time winner of the NBA’s Hustle Award, which is given to the player who demonstrates the most dedication and hard work on the court.
Boykins retired from the NBA in 2012 after playing for 13 seasons. He finished his career with averages of 8.9 points, 3.2 assists, and 0.6 steals per game.
Melvin M. Hirsch
Position: Guard ▪ Shoots: Right
5-6, 165lb (168cm, 74kg)
Died: December 1968
College: Brooklyn College
Career Length: 1 year
Melvin M. Hirsch played for the Boston Celtics of the BAA (Basketball Association of America which eventually ended up becoming the current NBA). Mel was a stand-out at the Brooklyn College and after graduation he served the US Army working on the C-47 aircraft as a navigator. He had a really brief NBA career and played only 13 games in which he averaged 1.5 ppg and 0.8 ppg.
Anthony Jerome Webb
Position: Point Guard ▪ Shoots: Right
5-6, 133lb (168cm, 60kg)
Colleges: Midland College, NC State
High School: Wilmer-Hutchins in Dallas, Texas
Draft: Detroit Pistons, 4th round (17th pick, 87th overall), 1985 NBA Draft
NBA Debut: October 25, 1985
Career Length: 12 years
Spud Webb is a former NBA player who became famous for his incredible athleticism and remarkable skills on the basketball court, despite his diminutive size. Standing at just 5 feet 7 inches tall, Spud Webb defied the odds and became one of the most beloved players in NBA history.
Webb was born on July 13, 1963, in Dallas, Texas. He attended Wilmer-Hutchins High School, where he played basketball and became a standout player. Despite his small stature, Webb was a talented athlete with impressive jumping ability and lightning-fast speed.
After high school, Webb played basketball for Midland College, where he was named an NJCAA All-American. He then transferred to North Carolina State University, where he continued to excel on the court. In 1985, he was selected by the Detroit Pistons in the fourth round of the NBA draft, but he was waived before the start of the season.
Webb then signed with the Atlanta Hawks, where he quickly became a fan favorite. In 1986, he participated in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest, where he shocked the world by defeating his much taller opponents, including Dominique Wilkins, to win the contest. His victory made him an instant celebrity, and he became known as one of the best dunkers in NBA history.
Despite his small size, Webb had a successful NBA career that lasted over a decade. He played for several teams, including the Sacramento Kings, the Minnesota Timberwolves, and the Orlando Magic, before retiring in 1998. He finished his career with an average of 9.9 points per game, 5.3 assists per game, and 1.1 steals per game.
After his retirement, Webb remained involved in the NBA, working as a coach and a broadcaster. He also established the Spud Webb Celebrity Golf Tournament, which raises money for various charitable causes.
Gregory Alan Grant
Position: Point Guard ▪ Shoots: Right
5-7, 140lb (170cm, 63kg)
College: Trenton State University
High School: Trenton Central in Trenton, New Jersey
Draft: Phoenix Suns, 2nd round (25th pick, 52nd overall), 1989 NBA Draft
NBA Debut: November 3, 1989
Career Length: 6 years
Greg Grant is a retired American basketball player who made his mark in the National Basketball Association (NBA) in the 1990s. Born on August 12, 1966, in Trenton, New Jersey, Grant played point guard for five different NBA teams during his career.
Grant’s NBA journey began in 1989 when he was signed by the Phoenix Suns as an undrafted free agent. Despite his small stature (he stood at just 5’7″), Grant was known for his quickness and ball-handling skills, which allowed him to excel as a playmaker on the court. He played for the Suns for 1 season before becoming a member of the New York Knicks in 1990.
Grant’s time with the Knicks was brief, as he then moved to the Charlotte Hornets before ending the 1991-92 season with the Philadelphia 76ers. He then went on to play for the Washington Bullets and the Denver Nuggets before retiring in 1996.
Over the course of his career, Grant averaged 2.8 pts points and 2.7 assists per game. While he may not have been a superstar, he certainly made a name for himself as a determined and skilled player who overcame his physical limitations to make an impact in the league.
Today, Grant works as a basketball coach and trainer, passing on his knowledge and experience to the next generation of players.
Before we finish the blog, here is a shout-out to the shortest players in the NBA 2022-23 season who continue to battle in this league of giant super athletes:
- Facundo Campazzo (5’10”)
- Jordan McLaughlin (5’11”)
- Chris Paul (6’0”)
- Tyus Jones (6’0”)
- Kyle Lowry (6’0”)
The shortest NBA players were Muggsy Bogues, Earl Boykins, Mel Hirsch, Spud Webb, Greg Grant
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