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The Top 10 Most Successful Short Players in NBA History

Shorts guys can ball too!

Hornets - Alonzo Mourning, Mugsy Bogues, Dell Curry and , Larry Johnson 1995


You might be forgiven for presuming that in order to succeed in basketball you need to be tall. It is, after all, a sport performed by some giant athletes. However, there have been many examples of shorter stars who have been just as effective and important for their respective teams. Take a look at 10 of the most successful short players in basketball’s long-standing history.

Charlie Criss

At 5’8”, Charlie Criss might have been small but he certain had a big talent. Criss was twice voted the Most Valuable Player in the Continental Basketball Association but he always intended to make it on the big stage. It looked as though his dreams of making it as an NBA star were dashed but in 1977, at 28 years old, the Atlanta Hawks gave him a chance at guard and he made his mark as one of the league’s best ever short players.

Monte Towe

Towe’s 5’7” stature didn’t stop him holding his own against the giants of the NBA. The point guard played for North Carolina State University Wolfpacks and led his team to the national championship in 1974. Two years later, he was signed by the Denver Nuggets and enjoyed a successful spell before enjoying an extensive coaching stint at various colleges. In 2002, he was inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame.

Brevin Knight

The Cleveland Cavaliers drafted Brevin Knight 16th overall out of Stanford in 1997 and the 5’10” star made an immediate impact on the NBA. Knight is known for his outstanding defensive plays and averaged 2.5 steals in his rookie season, joining the likes of Tim Duncan in the NBA All-Rookie First Team.  Knight remains involved in basketball and is currently an analyst for the Memphis Grizzlies.

Earl Boykins

Boykins is one of the smallest basketball players to feature in the NBA and enjoyed success at a number of clubs. The 5’5” Eastern Michigan product was undrafted after college but continued to play basketball at various franchises, including the Denver Nuggets, and even had a short stint in the Italian A League. In 2009, he was eventually signed up to the Washington Wizards and went on to play for the Houston Rockets and Milwaukee Bucks in the following years. He now coaches high school basketball in Colorado, which is a popular career choice for many retired NBA players.

Wataru Misaka

Misaka is one of the few very well-known Asian NBA stars. He is widely regarded as the first Asian player, as well as the first non-Caucasian player to feature in the NBA. He played his university basketball in his hometown of Utah and, after impressing throughout his three years, was drafted in the first round by the New York Knicks. Although Misaka featured just three times before he was cut from the team, he was still inducted into the University of Utah Hall of Fame in 1999.

Damon Stoudamire

Stoudamire was an NBA regular from 1996 to 2008, playing for various teams including the Toronto Raptors, San Antonio Spurs and Memphis Grizzlies. He was given the nickname “Mighty Mouse” due to his 5’10” frame, and proved to be an effective guard during his time in the NBA. Voted as the ’96 Rookie of the Year, he enjoyed a successful spell in the NBA but failed to challenge for major championships.

Anthony Webb

Webb, or “Spud” as he was otherwise known, was one of the best short players of all-time, thrilling crowds with his exciting playing style. He enjoyed a 12-year career in the NBA and spent time at Atlanta Hawks, Sacramento Kings, Minnesota Timberwolves and Orlando Magic. Webb is one of two players under six feet tall to win the NBA Slam Dunk Contest – a fantastic achievement.

Calvin Murphy

Houston Rockets fans will argue that the 5’9” star is the greatest short player of all-time and they could certainly put up a good argument. Murphy secured a spot in the NBA All-Rookie Team during his maiden year in the league and was also named in the NBA All-Star Team in 1979. He is one of three players to play the entirety of their career with the Rockets and is in excellent company along with Hakeem Olajuwon and Rudy Tomjanovich.

Isaiah Thomas

The Sacramento Kings selected Thomas with the very last pick of the 2011 draft, but what a signing he was. The 5’9” Washington native was under pressure to even make the team but defied the odds and made the All-Rookie Second Team in his first season. Thomas now plays for the Boston Celtics and helped his new team beat former side Phoenix Suns earlier this year.

Tyrone Bogues

At 5’3”, Bogues is the shortest man to ever play in the NBA. However, he adapted his game to use his height to his advantage and was one of the quickest players to grace the court. He featured for the Charlotte Hornets in 1988 as a point guard and went on to enjoy a successful 10 years at the franchise. One of the most popular players in NBA history, Bogues is widely regarded as the greatest short player of all-time.

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