The shortest players in the NBA ever have had very different careers and accomplishments. Some of these shortest players in NBA history were never drafted or signed with a team, while others made it to the Hall of Fame! We will rank them from shortest to tallest, and briefly mention some advantages and disadvantages of being short in basketball.
10. Charlie Criss
Charlie Criss was born in 1948 and played for the Atlanta Hawks from 1977-1982. He is the 10th shortest player ever to play in the NBA, standing at only five feet eight inches tall! His career lasted eleven years, playing a total of 418 games – not bad when you consider his height!
9. Monte Towe
At only five feet seven inches, Monte Towe is our next shortest player in NBA history! He was drafted by the Atlanta Hawks in 1975 but never played for them. Despite this, his career lasted two years, with a total of 51 games for the Nuggets.
8. Wataru Misaka
Wataru Misaka is one of the shortest players in NBA history, and the shortest (five feet seven inches) Japanese player to play for the New York Knicks. He is also the first ever NBA Player of asian descent to suit up for any team. He began his career playing for a team called SPHAs (which is now known as Long Beach State University).
His height was not seen as a disadvantage – quite the opposite! His skills on the court were outstanding, making him a respected player in his time.
7. Red Klotz
Red Klotz is one of the shortest players to ever play in the NBA. Standing at only five feet seven inches, he was known as “The Claw” during his time with the Washington Generals and Baltimore Bullets. At 5 feet 7 inches, he is tied as the fourth-shortest person to play in an NBA game and the shortest player on a championship team.
6. Keith Jennings
Keith Jennings is one of the shortest players to ever play in the NBA. He stands at only five feet seven inches tall and played in the NBA for the Golden State Warriors. His overall basketball career lasted 12 years – which was longer than shortest players!
5. Greg Grant
Greg Grant is the fifth shortest player to ever play in the NBA. He stands at only five feet seven inches tall and played for the Philadelphia 76ers from 1991-1993. Despite his short height, he still managed a career that lasted 9 seasons!
Also a cool trivia: Grant was discovered while playing at a New Jersey Playground then got recruited to Division 3 basketball!
4. Mel Hirsch
Mel Hirsch is one shortest players to ever play for the NBA. He stands at only five feet six inches tall and played in two seasons with the Boston Celtics. His career was short-lived – lasting only two years!
3. Spud Webb
Spud Webb comes in at third shortest to ever play in the NBA. He stands at only five feet six inches tall and played for various teams, including Atlanta Hawks! Spud Webb was not just the shortest player but also one of the shortest players to win an NBA Slam Dunk Contest.
He won the contest in 1986, and it sparked his career to new heights! Despite being famous as a short dunker, Spud Webb was also a valuable point guard in his era. His career high in assists is 18 in a game, and he even once led the NBA is freethrow shooting percentage at 93.4% during the ’91-’92 season.
2. Earl Boykins
Earl Boykins is the second shortest player to ever play in the NBA. He stands at only five feet five inches tall and played for various teams, including Golden State Warriors, Orlando Magic, Denver Nuggets, etc. His career lasted an impressive 13 years – which is very rare with the shortest players!
Earl is now serving as an assistant coach for the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) Miners.
1. Muggsy Bogues
Coming in as our shortest person on this list of shortest players in NBA history is Muggsy Bogues! At only 5 feet 3 inches tall he was not even drafted into the NBA until 1994 when he joined Washington Bullets (now known as Wizards). Despite his height disadvantage, his amazing skills led him onto greater things.
In 1997 he signed with Charlotte Hornets and became their official franchise leader – something that likely wouldn’t have happened had it not been for his amazing skills on the court.
Muggsy Bogues was an American professional basketball player who played point guard in both the NBA and US minor leagues. He is best known as the shortest person to ever play in the NBA, standing at only five feet three inches tall! Despite this, he managed a career that lasted 14 years – something very rare with the shortest players!
Since leaving the NBA, Muggsy has been working in real estate, and doing promotional advertising. On top of that, he has been assisting the youth (aged 12-18) at ‘Always Believe Inc.’ A non-profit program that focuses on student athletics, leadership development, and character building and mentoring.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Being a Short Basketball Player
Let us start with the disadvantages since the potential challenges when it comes to playing sports like basketball if you’re short is pretty obvious. One clear disadvantage is the height, which makes it harder for players to rebound, shoot over taller defenders, and even just reaching for a loose ball.
Having a smaller frame also means their will be lack of physical strength. That’s why shorter and smaller players should take pride in having more stamina and speed to compensate of the lack of size.
However, being the shortest player is not always an impediment. It can even be seen as a strength for some, allowing them to achieve more than taller people! For example, Wataru Misaka was one of the shortest ever NBA players – but his skills were outstanding on the court.
His height did not hold him back at all – quite the opposite! He demonstrated that you don’t have to be tall to play good basketball, which has inspired many others around Japan.
Some advantages include having a low center of gravity which makes it harder for opponents to knock you off balance.
Another advantage of being the shortest player is that it allows for good ball-handling – short players often have nimble hands and feet to help with dribbling, passing, and stealing the ball. However, this also means they are not as tall which can make them a target on defense from taller opponents!
Physics suggests that shorter range of motion also means it allows shorter players to be quicker than taller players. Speed is usually a smaller athlete’s advantage!
At only five feet eight inches tall, Charlie Criss was one of the shortest NBA players ever but his career lasted 11 years – despite never making it into the Hall of Fame like some other players in NBA!
That said, he still managed 418 games over those eleven seasons – most likely because he had great skills and made up for his lack of height with skillful play during these 418 games…
So there you go! These are some of the shortest people ever to play on an NBA team or game. Shortest does not always mean worse – many successful coaches had these shortest players playing for them because they were incredible athletes even though their height may have seemed like a disadvantage compared to taller opponents.
The players listed above are just the prime example of “Heart over Height.” We also have shorter NBA players that are way below league average but made sure the world remembers their name. Players like Nate Robinson who stands at 5 foot 9, is a 3-time Dunk Champion. We also have players like Allen Iverson and Chris Paul who are below 6 foot tall in true height, but made sure they had Hall of Fame careers.
That being said, shorter basketball players will always have the power to inspire more people and the average dreamer!