The Long and Short of It – Part II

Shortest Basketball Players (in the NBA)
Earl BoykinsThe shortest player in the NBA currently is Denver’s 5’5” dynamo Earl Boykins. Boykins holds Eastern Michigan’s career record for assists with 624 and ranks second on the scoring list with 2,211 points, behind former NBA player Kennedy McIntosh’s 2,219. In his senior year, he averaged 25.7 ppg to place second in the nation in scoring. He averaged in double figures in scoring in each of his four seasons, starting all but one of his 122 games played and averaging 18.1 ppg for his career. He is one of the shortest most explosive player that I can remember. Would you believe he can benchpress 315 pounds! He led the U.S. 22-and-under team to the gold medal at the 1997 World University Games in Italy, leading the team with a 15.7 ppg average, and earning USA Basketball’s Athlete of the Year recognition in the process.

Mugsy BoguesThe shortest ever to play on NBA courts is the 5-3 Tyrone “Mugsy” Bogues. Bogues holds the record as the shortest player to ever dunk a basketball. Boykins has won the biannual Robert T. Spaulding ‘High Dunk’ contest in 1990, 1992 and 1994 and is considered one of the most skilled, and certainly the shortest executor of dunks in the history of the the game. Bogues graduated from Dunbar High School, the same school that produced future NBA players Reggie Williams, Reggie Lewis and David Wingate. As a senior in college, he led the Wake Forest Demon Deacons in scoring (14.8 ppg) and finished second among Atlantic Coast Conference guards in rebounding (3.8 rpg). He left college as the ACC’s all-time leader in assists and steals (since surpassed by Chris Corchiani and Bobby Hurley). He has received the Francis Pomeroy Naismith Award in 1987, an award given to the nation’s top player under six feet tall.

Spud Webb - look how high he jumpsAtlanta Hawks’ legendary Spud Webb is the shortest man on record – 5’7” – who has won an NBA slam dunk contest. In 1986, Spud Webb bested teammate Dominique Wilkins to capture the crown. His dunks included the elevator two-handed double pump dunk, the one-handed off the backboard one-handed jam, a 360-degree helicopter one-handed dunk, a 180-degree reverse double-pump slam, and finally, the 180-degree reverse two-handed jam from a lob bounce off the floor. He beat Wilkins aka “The Human Highlight Film” with two perfect 50-point scores in the final round. Would you believe he learned how to dunk when he was only 4’11”! After graduating in high school, he was not recruited by most colleges, mainly due to his size. Finally he attended Midland Junior College (in Midland, Texas) where he led his team to the junior college national title in 1982. In two years at N.C. State, Spud averaged 10.4 points and 5.7 assists per game.He played most of his NBA career with the Atlanta Hawks, but also had stints with the Sacramento Kings, Minnesota Timberwolves and Orlando Magic. In 12 seasons, he averaged 9.9 points per game.

Nate RobinsonLast year, New York rookie Nathaniel “Nate” Robinson made it to the record books as the second shortest player to capture the NBA slam dunk championship. Using Spud Webb as part of the props, Robinson caught the Spud Webb pass and jammed it home to beat Philadelphia 76ers high-flying Andre Iguodala who stood a full nine inches over his 5-9 frame. Robinson was a two-sport star in college, having played football and basketball for Washington. He dunked for the first time in eighth grade. Robinson was the 21st selection by the Phoenix Suns (his rights were traded to the New York Knicks) in the NBA 2005 draft. Quoting New York Knicks head coach Isiah Thomas: “At that size, to get to this level, you have to have incredible speed. He has that. You got to have incredible intelligence. It’s speed, basketball IQ and toughness to go inside and take a lick. Even though he’s small, he’s put together pretty tight. He can take a lick…”

Among the short players who donned an NBA jersey are Clippers’ 5-9 Yuta Tabuse, Chicago’s 5-10 Andre Barrett, Charlotte’s 5-10 Brevin Knight, Memphis’ 5-10 Damon Stoudamire, ex-Seattle and San Antonio guard 5-10 Mike Wilks, Memphis’ 5-11 Chucky Atkins, ex-New Jersey guard 5-11 Travis Best, Milwaukee’s 5-11 TJ Ford, Atlanta’s 5-11 Craig “Speedy” Claxton, and Dallas’ 5-11 Jose Juan Barea. Probably next time we’ll be able to see a 1 foot point guard catching a pass and dunking it home. hehehe.

Do you know other short basketball players?

To be continued… (tomorrow, we’ll feature the tallest Filipino basketball players of all time)

3 thoughts on “The Long and Short of It – Part II”

  1. great set of stories John, as usual.

    you know, re short players, I’m sure there’s an interesting story behind the people who drafted them as well. Despite the fact that the players were achievers, people (coaches, team owners, managers, etc.) still had to take a chance on them, and I’m sure it would be interesting to know what finally convinced them to draft these guys.

  2. and finally, the NBA measures guys with their shoes on, so I’m sure a lot of the players measured at 6’0, 6’1 or 6’2 were actually 5’11 or 5’10.

    I remember I saw Kevin Johnson when he went here. The first thing that struck me was that he wasn’t that tall at all, certainly not the 6’1 he was listed at.

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