Let’s face it – basketball is a tall man’s game. Depending on your age and skill level, the height you need to be competitive gets higher and higher. If you’re above 6 feet tall in high school, you’ll be one of the tallest people on the floor. My high school had a 7-footer on the team, who we ironically nicknamed “Tiny”, who absolutely mopped the floor with the opposition.
When you get into the upper echelons of college basketball and the NBA, 7-footers become the norm and if you are under 6-feet tall you are an anomaly.
However, a number of stars that tip the scale at under 6 feet, though rare, have actually made a name for themselves in the league.
Who Are the Shortest Players in the NBA?
Believe it or not, there have been people of average (or even below average) height that have risen to the highest ranks of basketball. To put how rare this is in perspective, only 25 players in the history of the league have ever clocked in at 5’9″ or shorter. The average height in the league has risen over the years as players have become more developed, and only two such players of that height are currently in the league.
Shortest of All Time
As for the shortest players of all time? Take a look at a list of the 25 shortest players to ever lace up their sneakers in the NBA (credit to Wikipedia).
- 1Muggsy Bogues – 5 ft 3 in (pictured at the top of this page)
- 2Earl Boykins – 5 ft 5 in
- 3Mel Hirsch – 5 ft 6 in
- 4Greg Grant – 5 ft 7 in
- 5Keith Jennings – 5 ft 7 in
- 6Herm Klotz – 5 ft 7 in
- 7Wataru Misaka – 5 ft 7 in
- 8Monte Towe – 5 ft 7 in
- 9Spud Webb – 5 ft 7 in
- 10Charlie Criss – 5 ft 8 in
- 11Dino Martin – 5 ft 8 in
- 12Willie Somerset – 5 ft 8 in
- 13Howie Carl – 5 ft 9 in
- 14Charlie Hoefer – 5 ft 9 in
- 15Lionel Malamed – 5 ft 9 in
- 16Ed Melvin – 5 ft 9 in
- 17Calvin Murphy – 5 ft 9 in
- 18Angelo Musi – 5 ft 9 in
- 19Ralph O’Brien – 5 ft 9 in
- 20Nate Robinson – 5 ft 9 in
- 21Gene Rock – 5 ft 9 in
- 22Yuta Tabuse – 5 ft 9 in
- 23Isaiah Thomas – 5 ft 9 in
- 24Kay Felder – 5 ft 9 in
- 25Tyler Ullis – 5 ft 9 in
You Don’t Need to Be Tall to Compete
As you can guess, pretty much all of these players, with the exception of Dino Martin (a forward) were point guards. That makes sense – you won’t see these guys banging around low and grabbing rebounds and blocking shots.
However, what’s amazing about this list is some of the names and accomplishments on there. Isaiah Thomas is a two-time NBA All-Star and son of the great player by the same name (a Hall of Famer and member of “The Dream Team”).
Even more amazing are Spud Webb and Nate Robinson. Not that they are a better player than Isaiah Thomas, but that they were participants in the Slam Dunk Contest during NBA All-Star Weekend – an event which Webb won in 1986!
These guys have proven that you don’t need to be a giant to play in the NBA (though it certainly helps!). However, if you want a couple extra inches that can help you grab that rebound, win that jump ball, or block that shot, you may be interested in the resources below that can help you grow in height: