When people, even those who aren’t very familiar with basketball, think of the NBA, images of dunks often come to mind. Some of the first names that spring to mind when discussing basketball are big guys like Shaquille O’Neal and Wilt Chamberlain.
NBA scouts have been drooling over tall talents like Victor Wembanyama and Chet Holmgren for a variety of reasons, including, but not limited to, their height and wingspan.
Though taller players have always had an edge on the court, shorter players have never been discouraged from trying to make it to the NBA. Here, you will learn the names of the three players in NBA history who were the smallest to ever suit up for the league.
3. Mel Hirsch (height: 5’6″)
It’s one thing to get into the league when you’re just 5 feet 6 inches tall; it’s another to keep your footing once you’re there. Mel Hirsch, a guard, was able to make the Boston Celtics squad for the 1946-47 season.
Hirsch’s performance wasn’t very noteworthy, even by the standards of the time. He played in just 13 games, but his stats were respectable: 1.5 points and 0.8 assists per game on 20.0% shooting from the field and 50.0% from the foul line.
2. Earl Boykin (height 5’5″)
Earl Boykins, in contrast to Hirsch, spent a total of 13 seasons in the NBA, playing at a high level the whole time. Considering that the typical NBA player retires after only 4.5 years, it’s very astounding.
On average, Boykins scored 8.9 points per game for his career across his stops with the New Jersey (now Brooklyn) Nets, Cleveland Cavaliers, Orlando Magic, Los Angeles Clippers, Golden State Warriors, Denver Nuggets, Milwaukee Bucks, Charlotte Bobcats (now Hornets), Washington Wizards, and Houston Rockets.
1. Muggsy Bogues (height 5’3″)
At long last, we reach Muggsy Bogues, the stuff of legend. For 14 years, Bogues was a reliable starter despite his little stature. His extraordinary athleticism allowed him to succeed, and he finished his career with 39 blocks.
Bogues, who was stealthy, quick, and highly cerebral, played for the Washington Bullets, the Charlotte Hornets (now the New Orleans Pelicans), the Golden State Warriors, and the Toronto Raptors. With the 1986 FIBA World Championship, he led the tournament in scoring and assist averages at 7.7 and 7.6, respectively.