The NBA is a big man’s game – the average height of a player nowadays is 6′ 6″. Everyone knows it’s difficult to make it in the NBA, but it’s especially challenging for anyone lower on the size spectrum. Below-average players deserve a lot more appreciation.

In this article, I explore the shortest NBA players of all time and discuss their careers in greater detail. The truth is that fans can relate to players who’re smaller in stature. Not everyone is gifted with size, which is why we enjoy watching the shortest players flourish in the NBA.

Basketball Tyrone ‘Muggsy’ Bogues

  • Height: 5’ 5”
  • NBA Seasons: 14
  • Points Per Game: 7.7

Muggsy Bogues is listed as the shortest player in NBA history, but he enjoyed a prosperous career. The guard’s a basketball legend who was recognized for his perseverance despite his size. Wake Forrest, where Muggsy played in college, even retired his jersey number.

What’s also remarkable about Muggsy’s career is that he averaged 7.6 assists per game. He’s 23rd on the all-time list of assists, which is no small feat (get it?). He only recorded 36 blocks in his career, but one of them was against Patrick Ewing.

It’s also worth mentioning that the Washington Bullets drafted Muggsy 12th overall in the 1987 NBA Draft. Players around his height are rarely drafted nowadays, which is another reason why his career was so remarkable.

Basketball Earl Boykins

  • Height: 5’ 5”
  • NBA Seasons: 14
  • Points Per Game: 8.9

Earl Boykins is another one of the shortest NBA players ever who defied the odds during his career. He’s also the lightest player on record, weighing only 133 pounds. Boykins appeared so much smaller than the other players that it was astonishing to watch him play.

Boykins wasn’t drafted when he entered the NBA, and he was a journeyman for most of his career. In fact, during his first six seasons, Boykins played for five different teams. His longest stint with a single team was with the Nuggets from 2003 to 2007.

Even though he was small, Boykins was an efficient player. He could score and pass the ball pretty well. He also scored 32 points against the Pistons, making him the shortest player ever to surpass 30 points in a single NBA game.

Basketball Mel Hirsch

  • Height: 5’ 6”
  • NBA Seasons: 1
  • Points Per Game: 1.5

Mel Hirsch played in the NBA during a time in which mega-tall players weren’t as common. He also held the distinction as the shortest player ever for several decades. Hirsch appeared in only 13 NBA games for the Boston Celtics during the 1946-47 season.

Although shorter players have come after him, Hirsch still remains the third-shortest player ever. During his lone season, the NBA (known at that time as the Basketball Association of America) consisted of only 11 teams. The Celtics finished tied for last in the Eastern Division that year.

In 1968, Hirsch lost his life after falling ill with leukemia. He was only 47 years old when he passed. Hirsch also served in the US Army Air Corps and was a Navigator on the C-47 aircraft. He played on his squadron’s official basketball team.

Basketball Anthony ‘Spud’ Webb

  • Height: 5’ 6”
  • NBA Seasons: 12
  • Points Per Game: 9.9

Anthony ‘Spud’ Webb is most famously known as one of the shortest players in NBA history to compete in the Slam Dunk contest. He even won the event in 1986, which surprised everyone in the media. His performance earned him endorsements from Chips Ahoy! and Coca-Cola.

Aside from his underestimated dunking abilities, Spud was a good player. He had a long NBA career and actually led the league in free throw shooting percentage in 1994-95. He also scored 8,072 points in his career, and his best season was in 1991-92 (16.0 PPG and 7.1 APG).

Basketball Greg Grant

  • Height: 5’ 7”
  • NBA Seasons: 6
  • Points Per Game: 2.8

Greg Gant’s another one of the shortest NBA players of all time who was actually drafted. He was selected 52nd overall by the Phoenix Suns in 1989. Unfortunately, Grant appeared in 274 games and was never able to establish himself in the NBA.

What I like about Grant’s story is that he was drafted out of Trenton State College (now known as The College of New Jersey). This is a Division III school that rarely produces any NBA players. During his final year in college, Grant led all Division III players in scoring.

Grant would venture into coaching after his NBA career was over. He took over as head coach for Trenton Central High School from 2010 to 2015. During that time, Grant led the team to a win-loss record of 100-32 combined.

Basketball Keith Jennings

  • Height: 5’ 7”
  • NBA Seasons: 3
  • Points Per Game: 6.6

Keith Jennings is also among the shortest players in NBA history. However, before entering the NBA in 1993, Jennings was already earning accolades. He won the 1991 Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award, recognizing the best college senior shorter than six feet.

Unfortunately, Jennings didn’t have much of an impact in the NBA. He only averaged 18 minutes per game in his career and fizzled out after three seasons. Jennings would then go overseas and extend his playing career by ten years.

Since retiring in 2004, Jennings has coached high school and college basketball. In 2017, he took over head coaching duties for the Lees–McRae women’s team, a private college in North Carolina.

Basketball Red Klotz

  • Height: 5’ 7”
  • NBA Seasons: 1
  • Points Per Game: 1.4

Here’s another old-school player and the only name on this list who’s won a championship. Red Klotz appeared in only 11 regular season games, scoring 15 total points. He also scored six points in six postseason games during his lone season.

Klotz was also a founder of the Washington Generals, an American exhibitionist team that often played the Globetrotters. Matches took place every year from 1953 until 1995. The Generals won only two games during the stretch, while Klotz played as a point guard on the team for decades.

Basketball Wat Misaka

  • Height: 5’ 7”
  • NBA Seasons: 1
  • Points Per Game: 2.3

Wat Misaka is not only one of the shortest NBA players of all time, but he was also the first player of Asian descent in the NBA. He played for the Utah Utes in college and helped lead the team to an NCAA Championship in 1944.

Misaka’s NBA career was extremely short-lived. He only played three games and scored seven points before the New York Knicks released him mid-season in 1947. The team had several other guards on the depth chart ahead of Misaka.

When his playing career was over, Misaka returned to Utah and earned his engineering degree. He also received an offer to play for the Harlem Globetrotters, but he turned it down. He said the minimum salary wasn’t much different from the starting pay for an engineer.

Misaka passed away in 2019 at the age of 95 after living much of his life in Salt Lake City. The University of Utah would retire his jersey number during a ceremony on January 22, 2022. He was also featured in a landmark exhibit at the Japanese American National Museum in 2000.

Basketball More Cool NBA Lists

We’ve created other lists that explore the history and oddities of the NBA. You should check the articles we’ve written to learn more about what’s happened over the years.

Here are a few interesting examples.

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