Everybody loves the underdog, but the undersized dog? We love them even more. We embrace stories of people overcoming almost impossible odds and adversity to achieve their dreams. In a land of NBA giants, where the average height of an NBA player is 6′ 7″, what business does a person that can barely clear the minimum height requirements to ride a Disney World ride have doing in the NBA? All kinds of business I’d say if you study the following achievements of the Top 5 shortest NBA players of all-time.
#5) Earl Boykins
At 5′ 5″ Earl is the second shortest player to hit the hardwood. Born in Cleveland, Ohio Earl later attended High School at Central Catholic. In college he played at Eastern Michigan where he finished his senior season second in the nation in scoring and was selected as an Honorable Mention All-American. Earl holds Eastern Michigan’s career record for assists with 624 and ranks second on the scoring list with 2,211 points (8 shy of tying the record).
Upon graduation no NBA team drafted Earl, but he has managed to find his way into the league and has been there since 1999. On November 11, 2004, Boykins scored 32 points in a 117-109 Nuggets’ home win over the Detroit Pistons, making him the shortest player in NBA history to score 30 or more points during a game.
Even though Earl only weighs 133 pounds he can bench press 315.
#4) Nate Robinson
At 5’9″ Nate Robinson is the 5th shortest man to have ever played in the NBA. By being drafted #21 in the 1st round of the 2005 NBA draft by the Phoenix Suns Nate was far from being considered a long shot to make it in the NBA. In his senior year in high school he led his team (Rainier Beach in Seattle) to a state championship. He averaged 17.9 points per game and a more astonishing figure, 7 rebounds per game.
Nate was an incredible athlete as he also played football for the Washington Huskies in college. Nate played his first five seasons with the New York Knicks before being traded to the Boston Celtics. Through the 2010 season Nate won the slam dunk contest three times. He first dunked in 8th grade (height unknown) with a volleyball.
One of the most incredible highlight reels has Nate dunking over 6’11” Dwight Howard in the 2009 NBA Slam Dunk Contest. To view the incredible NBA video (click here) to view. In fact, this is why he makes the list, because of his awesome athleticism.
Another incredible highlight has Nate Robinson blocking 7’6″ Yao Ming’s shot. To see this incredible NBA video (click here). You have to have some serious vertical to block the shot of a person almost two feet taller than you!
#3) Tyrone “Muggsy” Bogues
At 5’3″”Muggsy” Bogues is the shortest man to have ever played in the NBA. “Muggsy” ended up playing 14 seasons with 4 different teams (Bullets, Hornets, Warriors, Raptors) in the NBA.
Bogues played at Dunbar High in Baltimore, where the 1981-82 Dunbar Poets finished the season at 29-0 during Bogues’ junior season and finished 31-0 during his senior season (60-0 his last two years), and were ranked first in the nation by USA Today.
He later was recruited by and played all four seasons at Wake Forest University.
Selected by the Washington Bullets in the first round (12th pick overall) of the 1987 NBA Draft, “Muggsy” would end up being the Hornets’ career leader in minutes played (19,768), assists (5,557), and steals (1,067). After retiring he went on to coach a women’s team–the now defunct Charlotte Sting of the WNBA.
Here are some of “Muggsy” Bogues more impressive highlight reels in the NBA: To view his NBA video (click here). The music is great!
If anything, you must watch the first 17 seconds of the above NBA video just to see the the shortest and the tallest men to have ever played in the NBA walking together at the same time on the court for the Washington Wizards. Manute Bol was 7’7″, a whole 2’4″ inches taller than “Muggsy.”
#2) Anthony “Spud” Webb
At 5’7″ “Spud” Webb may not have been the shortest player to have played in an NBA game but he was the 3rd shortest. In my mind he was the most exciting of the small players in the NBA (his NBA Slam Dunk feats elavated him past Calvin Murphy in my mind). He was a 4th round draft pick by the Detroit Pistons in the 1985 NBA Draft. In the 1986 NBA Slam Dunk Contest, “Spud” Webb showed off his incredible 42 inch vertical and went on to win the contest doing the most amazing aerials I have ever seen. In 1998, Webb retired from basketball after playing 814 games and scoring 8072 points for his career.
Before entering into the NBA, “Spud” played for the famous Jim Valvano of N.C. State. Sparsely recruited by colleges, Webb actually garnered the attention of Sports Illustrated for his play in the Junior College National Title game where he scored 36 points to help his team Midland College win in double overtime.
Spud first dunked in a game his senior season in high school when he was 5’6″
To see his incredible NBA video (click here) for some of the greatest NBA Slamdunk feats you will ever see performed by a 5’7″ man. Included are a 360 degree dunk and a lofted ball reverse back jam. “Spud” is my all-time personal favorite since I never had the privilege of seeing Calvin Murphy play.
“Spud” Webb also dunked over the tallest man in the NBA (Manute Bol). Ths video can be found on youtube.com as well.
#1) Calvin Murphy
At 5’9″ Calvin is the only one of the short men on this list to make the NBA Hall of Fame (1993). Coming out of Niagra University Calvin was drafted #18 in the 1st round by the San Diego Rockets (now Houston). At Niagra he was a three time All-American. Here are a few more accomplishments by this mighty small man.
–scored 17,949 points in his career.
–made All-Rookie Team.
–from 1980-1981, he held the record for the second highest free throw percentage in a season and most consecutive free throws made.
Calvin Murphy was a world class baton twirler. Calvin claimed he was pressured into it as his mother and all six of his sisters were twisters. In 1963, he won a national championship in baton twirling. His reputation as a twirler earned him invitations to perform at major sporting events.