Top 10 shortest players in the history of the NBA

Tyrone Muggsy Bogues is the shortest player in the history of the NBA

Table of Contents

The following list contains the top 10 shortest players ever to play in the history of the NBA

It is said that traditionally, basketball is a tall man’s game. Ever since the inception of the NBA in 1949, we have seen tall players dominating the league. Interestingly, from 1985 to 2006, the average height of players in the NBA was roughly 6’7”.

From China’s Yao Ming to Sudan’s Manute Bol, we have seen these gigantic figures give their all on the hardcourt. However, this world is full of exceptions who like to break the rules and challenge conventions.

The following 10 basketball players are nowhere near the ‘height’ standards of NBA basketball, yet they were dreamers who refused to give up on their passions and ambitions. Even in the face of adversity, they all went on to play professionally – and few of them opted to become coaches after their playing careers were over.

Clearly, everything is possible if one tries hard enough. Keep on reading to find out about the top 10 shortest players in NBA history.

Top 10 shortest players in NBA history

1. Charlie Criss: Height – 5’8”

The road to NBA for Charlie Criss was not an easy one. After graduating from New Mexico State University, he played in the Continental Basketball Association. In 1977, seven years after he left college, his long dream of playing in the NBA came true.

Sports Illustrated acknowledged 28-year-old Criss as “the NBA’s smallest player and oldest rookie”. In his rookie year of 1987, he played for the Atlanta Hawks as a guard.

2. Monte Towe: Height – 5’7”

Towe was the literal definition of ‘heart over height’. Whenever he got the chance to play, he more than proved his worth. His furious speed and confidence made the opponents look standstill.

Monte Towe is one of the shortest basketball players ever
Monte Towe during his playing days (Wiki)

Towe was a third-round draft pick with the Denver Nuggets and went on to play for them from 1976 to 1977. After being done with his playing career, he went on and became the assistant coach at NC State.

3. Keith “Mister” Jennings: Height – 5’7”

Jennings joined California’s Golden State Warriors as a point guard in 1992 and went on to play for them until 1995. While he was in college, Jennings won the 1991 Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award, which is given annually to the most outstanding senior player under six feet in height.

He averaged 18 minutes per game with the Warriors, and after his NBA career was over, he went to play in countries like Germany, Spain, Turkey, Russia, and France.

Keith Jennings outside of the NBA
Keith Jennings (Nancy) during his days outside of the NBA

4. Wataru “Wat” Misaka: Height – 5’7”

Misaka was the first player of Asian descent to play for an NBA team. He helped his college team, Utah Utes to win an NCAA championship in 1944.

After college, Misaka played briefly as a point guard for the New York Knicks from 1947 to 1948. Unfortunately, he just played three games for the Knicks.

5. Greg Grant: Height – 5’7”

Grant was drafted by the Phoenix Suns in 1989. He spent a year with the Suns before signing with the New York Knicks as a free agent in 1990. In December 1991, he joined the Philadelphia 76ers as a point guard, playing for them until 1993. He then went on to sign with the Orlando Magic in 1994.

Grant went on to become a high school coach in Trenton for five years, where his teams went 100-32. He has also published a book named 94 Feet and Rising: The Journey of Greg Grant to the NBA and Beyond.

6. Louis “Red” Klotz: Height – 5’7”

Klotz joined the NBA’s Baltimore Bullets as a point guard in 1947. Five years later, he created the Washington Generals. It is noteworthy that Baltimore Bullets won the 1948 Basketball Association of America title while Klotz was still playing for them.

The Washington Generals are a regular competitor against the Harlem Globetrotters. However, the last time the Generals won a game against the Globetrotters was in 1971. It is said that the Generals have lost more than 13,000 games till date.

7. Anthony “Spud” Webb: Height – 5’7”

Winner of the 1986 NBA slam-dunk contest, Webb played 814 games in the NBA as a point guard. In 1985, he signed with the Atlanta Hawks, and then he went on to play with the Sacramento Kings, the Minnesota Timberwolves, and the Orlando Magic.

Anthony Spud Webb also played in the Slam Dunk contest
Anthony Spud Webb also won a Slam Dunk contest (AL)

Webb astonishingly led the NBA in free-throw shooting percentage during the 1994-95 season. He shot greater than 93% from the free-throw line.

8. Melvin Hirsch: Height – 5’6”

Hirsch is the third shortest player to ever play in the history of the NBA. He joined the Boston Celtics in 1946 and played 13 games for them. Although the Celtics missed the playoffs, Hirsch is said to score 19 points for his team.

9. Earl Boykins: Height – 5’5”

Boykins attended Eastern Michigan University from 1994 to 1998. He signed up with the Eagles basketball team, through which he became the second-leading scorer in the nation.

Sadly, after college, he wasn’t drafted by any NBA team but still made his mark on the game through short-term contracts. In 2008, he spent a season with Virtus Bologna in the Italian A-League.

Earl Boykins at the Milwaukee bucks
February 16, 2011 Milwaukee, WI. Bradley Center..Milwaukee Bucks Earl Boykins 11 makes the pass, Boykins had 5 points coming off the Bucks bench tonight..Milwaukee Bucks lost to the Denver Nuggets 87-94. Mike McGinnis/CSM – ZUMAcc9

Later, he was signed by the NBA’s Washington Wizards in 2009 and went on to play with the Milwaukee Bucks and the Houston Rockets in the following years.

10. Tyrone “Muggsy” Bogues: Height – 5’3”

Short on size but not on talent, the 5’3” Bogues is the shortest player to ever compete in the NBA. He played 14 long seasons in the NBA and averaged more than 10 assists per game twice. His most notable time was at the Charlotte Hornets, where he played as a guard.

Between 1983 and 1987, Bogues played basketball at the Wake Forest University. As an honor, his jersey number was retired by the University.

More NBA news

Follow our dedicated NBA page for instant NBA news and updates