Tyrone "Muggsy" Bogues
Retired NBA Point Guard and former Olympic Gold Medalist, 5 foot 3 Tyrone "Muggsy" Bogues, went through much of his life hearing that he was 'too short' to play basketball. He was focused on 'proving people wrong,' and that he could in fact play with the very best of them- Magic Johnson, Shaquille O'Neal, Patrick Ewing, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Michael Jordan. His playing skills were so great that he wreaked havoc on NBA courts for opposing teams who underestimated not only his physical stature but also the size of his heart. Muggsy Bogues caused much hysteria and elation throughout his fourteen seasons (with four teams) as the shortest player in NBA history.
Muggsy grew up in Baltimore, Maryland of U.S in the inner-city lafayette public housing projects. He grew up outclassing and outplaying high quality competitors on the streets and at school during the late 70's and early 80's. Muggsy became well known for his sheer mental and physical toughness along with his knack for being aggressive, 'feisty,' and 'pesty' toward his opponents. He had been at least 7-10 inches shorter than most of his opponents even throughout school. As he expressed throughout his career, Muggsy didn't pay attention to height because he was too busy focusing on playing only the "best way he knew how."
Muggsy shot decent percentages for most of his college career at Wake Forrest University, however, during his senior year, he managed an astounding 14.8 points per game on 50% shooting along with 44.8% from deep range and 9.5 assists per game.
How Good was Muggsy in the NBA?
He was drafted by the Washington Bullets with No. 12 overall pick in round 1 of the 1987 NBA Draft. Although he averaged only 7.7 points throughout his fourteen year career Muggsy was still one player that coaches had a hard time preparing against due to his unpredictable and aggressive playing style. One year he averaged 11 points and 10 assists and had sparked a huge wave of new fans after his famous block on seven foot Patrick Ewing.
From '92 to '95 he remained on the starting line up for every game of the season for what was notably his best three year span. Muggsy became a 35 to 40 minutes-per-night player who averaged 1.6 turnovers per game career total. Muggsy became well adept to finding and fitting through the smallest of holes in opposing defenses. At times he was known for carrying his team by being the primary ball-handler and a premiere passer. He also averaged 7.6 assists for his career total. During his prime with the Charlotte Hornets he averaged 8.8 assists and 1.8 turnovers per game. While remaining conscious of his limitations Muggsy made an effort to ensure that his 'shortcomings' didn't negatively affect his team's overall performance. He averaged only 1.8 fouls per game for his career and despite not never 'measuring up' to many of his opponents, he never resorted to hacking and desperation tactics to get ahead.
Muggsy was more than just a novelty or a "circus act to bring in ticket sales." He was a solid NBA starting point guard, who helped each of his teams by distributing the ball, making plays, and knowing and accepting his role.
Despite his amazing success in the NBA Muggsy was never inducted into the Hall of Fame, never went on to compete in any all star game, and never won any major NBA titles; he only played in the playoffs 5 out of 14 seasons. Muggsy Bogues fulfilled his 14 year career by defying odds and his physical limitations. Still, his impact and his reign in the NBA are still felt by his fans, retired NBA stars and players who continue to come after him.
Was Muggsy Bogues truly one of the the most underrated NBA players of our time? You decide. What can you take away from his success on the court? Do you have the heart that Bogues has? - There aren't many, I am sure of it.
*Fun Fact: Michael Jordan was well known for his brutal trash talk during his iconic run. Most famously when he told Muggsy Bogues to "Shoot it you fucking midget," right before Muggsy missed by a wide shot for the game winner that would have beaten MJ's bulls in the 1995 playoffs.
^Visit: How MJ Hurt Muggsy Bogues Career link https://www.complex.com/sports/2015/04/michael-jordan-epic-trash-talking-moments/muggsy-bogues for full details of this moment in which Muggsy Bogues claims altered his career for the worse and was never the same going forward.
*Other notable short NBA players
- Earl Boykins 5 ft 5 in (1.65 m) 135 lb (61 kg)
- Mel Hirsch 5 ft 6 in (1.68 m) 165 lb (75 kg)
- Greg Grant 5 ft 7 in (1.70 m) 140 lb (64 kg)
- Spudd Webb 5 ft 7 (1.70 m) 133 ib (60 kg)