When people think of basketball players, they typically imagine someone with an above-average height. That’s because professional basketball players are up to seven feet tall.
Being tall gives players a better advantage. Not only do they have a longer arm span to help reach the ball, but their height also brings them that much closer to the 10-foot-high basketball hoop.
According to NBA standards, the average height of a professional basketball player is 6’7″ … towering over the average 5’9” man. However, there are a few players in history who defied all odds and started a career in basketball despite their small stature.
Those players truly had to prove themselves on the court. They also had to push their limits of what they thought was possible. This list of the 25 Shortest Professional Basketball Players proves that anything is possible with hard work, passion, and dedication.
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Muggsy Bogues - 5'3"
Tyrone Curtis “Muggsy” Bogues knew he was born to be a basketball player despite his lack of height. His passion and dedication were noticed by all who had the honor of playing with him.
Bogues led his high school basketball team to victory countless times. He even helped to make them one of the top high school teams in the United States. When he graduated from high school, his coach retired his jersey number.
When it came time for Bogues to enter the NBA draft, he was selected 12th in the first round by the Washington Bullets. He had a successful career before he retired, ranking 16th among all-time assist leaders.
Bogues says he doesn’t want to be remembered for being the shortest person ever to join the NBA but rather for his passion and skill.
Charlie Criss - 5’8”
Charlie Criss kept his dream of being a professional basketball player alive despite only being 5’8”. After graduating from New Mexico State University, he started playing for the Continental Basketball Association.
During his time on the team, his passion for the game earned him multiple MVP awards. However, his dreams of becoming an NBA player were never far from his mind.
Finally, at the age of 28, Criss became the NBA’s smallest and oldest rookie. He played for the Atlanta Hawks and was known not only for his ambition but for his speed and impressive shooting. Criss became a perfect example of why you should never give up on your dreams.
Keith Jennings - 5’7”
Many college athletes dream of getting drafted by a professional team. However, there are no guarantees of becoming a successful athlete after graduation.
For Keith Jennings, his chances were even slimmer because of his height. Standing at 5’7”, he almost didn’t stand a chance. After graduation from East Tennessee State University, his dreams were crushed when he wasn’t selected in the 1991 NBA draft.
Yet, he persevered and started his career as a free agent. The next year he signed a contract with the Golden State Warriors where he stayed for three seasons.
Spud Webb - 5’7”
Anthony Jerome, a professional basketball player, is more commonly known as Spud Webb. His dreams of making it into the NBA seemed far fetched since he was only 5’7”, yet his skill on the court led to victory time and again.
Webb is known for his impressive dunking ability. He was drafted into the NBA in the fourth round in 1985. He has played for teams like the Atlanta Hawks, Sacramento Kings, and Orlando Magic.
Monte Towe - 5’7”
Entering a new team can be daunting, and at times even intimidating. You could imagine how Towe felt when he first signed up for college basketball.
The coach for the NC State Wolfpack team thought he would be “eaten alive”. Despite being the shortest on the team, Towe quickly made a name for himself. He was greatly respected for his skill and ambitious attitude.
After graduation, Towe was drafted into the Denver Nuggets. He never let his height make him feel “less than” and always portrayed confidence on the court. Towe went on to have a successful NBA career before retiring as a college basketball coach.