The NBA is a league of superhumans!
It's no surprise, that a sport that involves putting a ball into a hoop 10-feet above the ground, is dominated by tall players. The average player height in the NBA is 6'7" (2.01 m). What the shorter players lack in height, they more than make-up for in heart, fight, and speed. There have been multiple shorter players over the years that made their mark in the league and left a lasting legacy.
Despite being vertically challenged, the shorter players have proved their worth. Most of them have been explosive scorers while the others have used their agility to pickpockets on defense. Rather than beating around the bush let's get to the point. So without further ado, here are the five shortest players in league history:
#5 Keith Jennings - 5'7" (1.70 m)
Keith Jennings only played three seasons in the NBA for the Golden State Warriors but has played professional basketball for over 13 years from 1991 to 2004.
He played for the Warriors from 1992 to 1995 after going undrafted in the 1991 Draft. He played 164 games in those three seasons averaging 6.6 points, 3.7 assists while shooting 43.6% from the field in 18.0 minutes on the floor.
In the 1995 NBA Expansion Draft, he was taken by the Toronto Raptors but that never translated into any playing time. Jennings then moved on to Europe to continue playing. Since his retirement in 2004, Jennings has been coaching various high schools varsity teams in the States.
#4 Greg Grant - 5'7" (1.70 m)
Unlike Jennings, Gregory Alan Grant was drafted into the NBA. Not very high though - 52nd overall by the Phoenix Suns in the 1989 Draft. He played 274 games in the league, however, he never found a stable footing - playing for six teams in nine years.
Through his career span, Grant averaged 2.8 points and 2.7 assists. Now, you know why he couldn't solidify his position in the league.
Similar to Jennings, Grant too took up coaching as his next career option. He was the Head Coach at the Trenton Central High School from 2010 to 2015 recording a win-loss record of 100-32 and ensuring each and every one of his students graduated.
#3 Mel Hirsch - 5'6" (1.68 m)
There were players as short as 5'6" right from the inaugural season of the NBA (then known as Basketball Association of America -BAA). Mel Hirsch, a 5'6" point guard, played for the Boston Celtics in the 1946-47 season.
His basketball career lasted only the 13 games of that season. He averaged 1.5 points, 0.8 assists on 20% shooting from the field. He was the league's shortest player ever till he was displaced more than 40 years later.
Part of the Marine Corp before playing in the league, Hirsch would eventually lose his life to leukemia in December 1968 at the age of 47.
#2 Earl Boykins - 5'5" (1.65 m)
Earl Boykins hung around the league quite a bit despite being just 5-foot 3 inches. He played for 10 teams in his 14 year NBA career. Following are the teams he made appearances for Milwaukee Bucks, Denver Nuggets, LA Clippers, Golden State Warriors, Cleveland Cavaliers, Orlando Magic, Houston Rockets, Charlotte Bobcats (now Hornets), Washington Wizards and the New Jersey Nets ( now Brooklyn Nets).
He applied for the Draft in 1998 but no team picked him. From the teams he played, Boykins tasted his most success with the Nuggets from 2003 to 2007. It was also the most stable time of his career, as he did not play more than two seasons for any other team.
Like many others in the profession, he too turned to coaching. He is currently the head coach of the Douglas County High School varsity basketball team.
#1 Muggsy Bogues - 5'3" (1.60 m)
Muggsy Bogues is the shortest player in NBA history. He's done a lot more in his 14-year history to be known by just that. Bogues played for four teams over his career - Charlotte Hornets, Golden State Warriors, Washington Bullets and the Toronto Raptors. He was drafted 12th overall by the Hornets in the 1987 Draft.
Apart from his basketball pro career, he also represented the country at the 1986 FIBA World Championships where he was part of the USA Basketball Team that won the Gold medal.
Despite being the shortest player in NBA history, Bogues still registered 39 career blocked shots including one on Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing. He wasn't any pushover because he is the franchise leader for Hornets in minutes, steals and assists.