Basketball, especially the NBA, is a game for the tall. The average height of a modern pro is 6-foot-7. The height of the average American male? 5-foot-9, reports the CDC. But modern pro sports, for the most part, are a meritocracy. If you can ball, you have a place in the NBA. Let’s look at five of the shortest NBA players to see how their careers ended up.
Muggsy Bogues lands with the WNBA
Charlotte Hornets hero Muggsy Bogues is still the most famous short guy to play in the NBA. That’s in part because the 5-foot-3, 135-pound point guard isn’t just pro basketball short; he’s short short. From 1989 through 1995, Bogues consistently landed in the top five assists in the league. He was competitive with some of the best point guards ever.
Currently, Bogues is up to what you’d expect from a beloved ’90s star. He’s a brand ambassador for the Hornets. But his career just before this is the real surprise. He spent a season coaching a WNBA squad, the short-lived Charlotte Sting — and he was shorter than any of his players.
Is it the end or a new beginning for Isaiah Thomas?
At 5-foot-9, Isaiah Thomas is exactly at the average American height. But in the NBA, this makes this two-time All-Star anything but average. Thomas went from being drafted dead last in 2011 to competing with James Harden and Russell Westbrook for the league scoring title.
Despite his on-court success, real life has been rough for Thomas. His sister Chyna died in a car crash in 2017. Not long after, injuries put Thomas into a grueling cycle of rehab. Now, in part due to his slow recovery, he’s a free agent. Thomas credits his two kids, James and Jaiden, and his wife Kayla, with keeping him even during this tough time.
An iconic moment proves Earl Boykins can juke anyone
Muggsy Bogues is the shortest NBA player ever. Just a notch above him is Earl Boykins, a 5-foot-5 journeyman point guard.
Boykins went undrafted, but he signed several short-term contracts before earning a five-year vote of confidence from the Denver Nuggets. Boykins’ iconic moment was a bob-and-weave trick shot past 6-foot-11 Spurs legend Tim Duncan.
As with many players who can’t rely on pure physicality, Boykins found his niche in coaching. These days, he works with the support staff for the University of Arkansas Razorbacks men’s basketball team.
Keith Jennings turns one game into a lifetime of work in basketball
Keith “Mister” Jennings is a ’90s Warriors favorite. The 5-foot-7 point guard spent three seasons showing what a little heart can do with a small frame. His best performance was the second-to-last game of his career in 1995. He scored 23 points, bolstered by going three-of-four from the three-point line.
That incredible night helped boost Jennings’ value as a trade piece to the then-new Toronto Raptors. Unfortunately, the expansion team was stacked with enough talent that Jennings never played a game. Today, he is the head women’s basketball coach at Lees-McRae College.
Spud Webb’s unbelievable post-retirement move
Anthony “Spud” Webb has a memorable name. His phenomenal athleticism earned him the most attention, though. Webb was the 1986 NBA Slam Dunk champion. If there is one aspect of basketball least suited to a 5-foot-7 player, it’s this. Yet he soared to an iconic victory. When fans think of the dunk contest, they think Michael Jordan, Vince Carter, and Spud Webb.
Webb was known for his icy stare as he made unbelievable drives through the paint. Yet off the court, he was all smiles. This may explain how he got commentary work with the Mavericks.
A pre- and post-game fixture for 30 Dallas games every year, Webb mostly sticks to broadcasting and charity work with the Boys & Girls Club of American. However, he’s had one post-retirement job that you couldn’t possibly guess.
Webb turned his talents toward coaching a team of strippers in 2011. A lockout inspired various promoters to seize the emptiness where NBA basketball should’ve been. For Webb, this bizarre opportunity came knocking.
Webb praised the ladies’ skills on the court and got the team rolling. But, likely due to the conflict with his otherwise family-friendly image, he backed out before any public games were played.
Follow more updates from Sportscasting on our Facebook page.