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Muggsy Bogues: The Shortest NBA Player Ever

Ellen Gutoskey
Muggsy Bogues and Patrick Ewing during a Hornets vs. Knicks game in the early 1990s.
Muggsy Bogues and Patrick Ewing during a Hornets vs. Knicks game in the early 1990s. / Focus On Sport/GettyImages
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With their 12th pick in the first round of the 1987 NBA draft, the Washington Bullets (now the Wizards) chose Tyrone “Muggsy” Bogues, a Baltimore native hot off a four-year career at Wake Forest University. Bogues was a lightning-fast point guard known for his precision passes and penchant for darting through narrow defensive holes—a skill not completely unrelated to the fact that he was only 5 feet, 3 inches tall.

At that height, Bogues became the shortest NBA player the league had ever seen, and nobody’s broken his record since. 

His stint with the Bullets only lasted a season, after which he was picked up by the newly formed Charlotte Hornets. He spent about a decade there before moving on to the Golden State Warriors and finally retiring with the Toronto Raptors after the 2000-2001 season. While in Washington, Bogues got to share home court with fellow Bullet Manute Bol, whose 7 feet, 6 inches (or 7 feet, 7 inches, depending on the source) made him the tallest player in the NBA at the time.

Manute Bol, Muggsy Bogues
Manute Bol and Muggsy Bogues in 1987. / Focus On Sport/GettyImages

But as Sportscasting points out, Bogues isn’t just remembered for his short stature. No other player in Hornets history has clocked more assists or steals; many of his peers have sung his praises as a scrappy trailblazer who pushed teammates and competitors alike beyond their normal tactics.

“All of us did whatever Muggsy said on the floor,” former Hornets teammate Dell Curry said in a clip from an NBA TV special called Muggsy: Always Believe. “He was the general. We trusted him with the ball.”

There are plenty of other short players who’ve had successful careers in the league, too. Earl Boykins, at 5 feet, 5 inches, filtered through several teams in the early 2000s. And Spud Webb—just an inch taller than Boykins—won the NBA Slam Dunk contest in 1986. He also boasted the best free throw percentage (about 93 percent) during the 1994-1995 season. The ‘shortest NBA player ever’ title, however, indisputably belongs to Muggsy Bogues.

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