Muggsy Bogues is the ultimate definition of an underdog. Standing at just 5-foot-3, Bogues played 14 seasons in the NBA, the majority of which with the Charlotte Hornets. While in Charlotte, he became close with an NBA star. More specifically, a future NBA star named Stephen Curry, who like Bogues would outperform expectations en route to becoming the greatest shooter in league history.
Muggsy Bogues teamed up with Dell Curry on the Charlotte Hornets
Bogues came into the league as the 12th pick in the 1987 NBA Draft. The undersized guard, whose real name is Tyrone Curtis Bogues, served as a valuable piece off of the bench for the Washington Bullets. But his time in the nation’s capital would end much sooner than he expected.
In 1988, the expansion Charlotte Hornets and Miami Heat were getting ready to join the NBA. In the expansion draft, Charlotte used its first pick on Cleveland Cavaliers shooting guard Dell Curry. The third pick was Bogues, who was shocked he was even up for selection.
“When I found out I was left unprotected in the expansion draft, I just had my exit meeting with the Washington Bullets,” Bogues said during the NBA TV documentary Muggsy: Always Believe. “And my agent called me and told me that [I’d] just been picked up by the Charlotte Hornets. I was like, ‘What do you mean I had just been picked up on the Charlotte Hornets?’ I was really, really pissed off, but once I got to Charlotte, I knew it was a match made in Heaven.”
Part of his reason for liking Charlotte was due to his new teammate Curry. The two immediately struck a connection on and off the court, playing together for 10 seasons in the Queen City.
“I knew we were going to click right away,” Curry said in the documentary. “He was a pass-first point guard, a guy who wanted to play fast and loved getting the assists. So I knew it was a match made in Heaven.”
Muggsy played a massive part in Stephen Curry’s life growing up
When Dell Curry joined the Hornets in June 1988, Wardell Stephen Curry II was born three months prior. By the time “Steph” was old enough to dribble a basketball, he was a staple in Charlotte’s locker room. The youngster was around NBA role models very early on, but perhaps none more impactful than Muggsy.
Bogues and Curry had lockers directly next to each other. According to Curry, his sons Stephen and Seth would often gravitate toward Muggsy due to his short stature but approachable nature.
“When I was in the locker room in Charlotte, [Muggsy] would take me and pick me up like an airplane and run me around the locker room,” Steph recalled in Muggsy: Always Believe. “He became kind of like family.”
Bogues also helped guide the Curry boys on the court, helping them understand the game they would eventually become stars in.
“Muggsy played a big part in their maturation and learning how to play basketball,” Dell explained. “And Muggsy loved that.”
Both Muggsy Bogues and the Curry brothers were seen as underdogs
At the time, Bogues had no idea the two boys he befriended would become great NBA players. Of course, Steph is a superstar and an easy first-ballot Hall of Famer, while Seth has now become one of the best 3-point shooters in the league. But all three were underdogs at one point in time.
Muggsy’s rise to the NBA is legendary. The 5-3 guard ran circles around opponents due to his quick speed and tenacious defense, but was constantly overlooked because of his size. But he continued to perservere, earning a scholarship at Wake Forest before heading to the NBA after his senior year.
Despite being Dell’s son, Steph was hardly a top recruit out of high school. At 160 pounds, Curry had to settle for Davidson College, where he wound up taking the Wildcats to the Elite 8 in 2008. Still, the 6-foot-2 guard was overlooked by several teams in the NBA Draft due to his height and weight, falling to the Golden State Warriors seventh overall.
Seth’s journey to where he is now took the longest of all. The youngest Curry went undrafted out of Duke in 2013 and bounced around the NBA and G League before catching on with the Sacramento Kings in 2016. He had stints with a couple more franchises before finding a home with the Philadelphia 76ers, where he now ranks as a better 3-point shooter than his brother.
While he may have been small, Muggsy was massive in mentoring Stephen and Seth early in their lives.
All statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference.