Few NBA players are more closely associated with Charlotte than Muggsy Bogues. The shortest player in league history played nine of his 14 seasons for the fledgling Hornets and has called the city home in his post-playing career, coaching the WNBA’s Charlotte Sting and United Faith Christian Academy before becoming a team ambassador when the Bobcats rebranded to the Hornets once again in 2014.
In his newest role for the Hornets, Bogues is making the media rounds to promote Charlotte as the host of this year’s All-Star Game on Feb. 17 and was kind enough to carve out time for Yahoo Sports. Our highest order of business was asking the 5-foot-3 spark plug for his All-Time Under 6-Foot Team.
“Of course it would be myself,” he started.
Drafted 12th by the Washington Bullets in 1987 and then sixth by the Hornets in the 1988 expansion draft, Bogues averaged 7.7 points and 7.6 assists over his 14 seasons, including a double-double campaign in 1993-94, when he averaged 10.8 points, 10.1 assists and a career-high 4.1 rebounds a night. He was the starting point guard for Charlotte’s first three playoff appearances, including an Eastern Conference semifinals showing in 1992-93 that has still not been exceeded in franchise history.
Excluding himself, here is Muggsy’s starting five of dudes under 6 feet tall …
Spud Webb (5-foot-6): 1985 fourth-round pick (87th overall); 12 NBA seasons; 1986 slam dunk champion; career averages of 9.9 points (54.3 true shooting percentage), 5.3 assists and 2.1 rebounds per game; 39 career playoff games (six starts), including the 1987-88 Eastern Conference semifinals.
Earl Boykins (5-foot-5): undrafted free agent; 13 NBA seasons; 1997 USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year; career averages of 8.9 points (51.6 true shooting percentage), 3.2 assists and 1.3 rebounds per game; shortest player ever to score 30 points in a single game; 15 career playoff games (one start).
Nate Robinson (5-foot-9): 2005 first-round pick (21st overall); 11 NBA seasons; three-time slam dunk champion; career averages of 11 points (53.1 true shooting percentage), three assists and 2.3 rebounds per game; 32 career playoff games (eight starts), including the 2010 NBA Finals with the Boston Celtics.
Isaiah Thomas (5-foot-9): 2011 second-round pick (60th overall); seven NBA seasons (and counting); two-time All-Star; Second Team All-NBA in 2017; career averages of 18.9 points (58.0 true shooting percentage), 5.1 assists and 2.6 rebounds per game; 25 career playoff games (21 starts), including the 2017 Eastern Conference finals and a 53-point game against the Wizards in the second round.
Michael Adams (5-foot-10): 1985 third-round pick (66th overall); 11 NBA seasons; 1992 All-Star; career averages of 14.7 points (53.6 true shooting percentage), 3.2 assists and one rebound per game; career-high 54 points; 20 career playoff games (16 starts), including the 1988 Western Conference semifinals.
We also wondered whether Tim Hardaway or Allen Iverson were 5-foot-something, but since both are listed at 6 feet, neither made the cut. The obvious oversight here is Calvin Murphy, but we put Bogues on the spot, so forgive him for excluding the shortest player ever inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Now for the rest of our conversation with Muggsy Bogues …
What’s your best memory from your Hornets days with Alonzo Mourning and Larry Johnson?
Bogues: “Mostly what stands out is that we were able to come together with two young stars in Alonzo and Larry. Larry was a year ahead of Zo, and Zo came in right behind him (in 1992-93), putting us on that national stage. Fortunately enough for us, during that year, we were blessed to beat the Boston Celtics in the playoffs, and Zo hit that big shot for us to advance. That really stands out. That was the big moment for the City of Charlotte, as well as for our organization.”
How often do you remind Patrick Ewing of the time you blocked him?
Bogues (laughing): “We come across each other quite a bit, Pat and I, but no, I don’t bring it up that he was part of my highlight film. That was just something that happened during the time we were playing, but we both know it in the back of our minds.”
What memories do the pictures of you and Manute Bol bring back?
Bogues: “It was such a treat playing with Manute. He was every bit of a gentle giant and had so much personality to go with it. People don’t remember that when we played back in 1987, before all the teams had chartered planes, we had to fly commercial, and we had to go by seniority in order to see who flew first class. Unfortunately, Manute and myself, we were the youngest of the group, and we had to go back and fly coach. Of course Manute had the exit row, but enough the exit row gave him trouble, and his knees were all up in his chest, trying to get comfortable.”
What’s your best Reggie Lewis story from high school?
(Bogues played on Dunbar High’s unbeaten teams in 1981-82 and 1982-83. That group — which included fellow future NBA players Reggie Lewis, Reggie Williams and David Wingate, along with three more future NCAA standouts — is considered by many to be the greatest high school team ever.)
Bogues: “May Reg rest in peace. We had a great high school run back then. Fortunate enough for us, Reg wasn’t a starter. He was the sixth man, coming in off the bench, so we had no drop-off whatsoever when he entered the game. We called him Truck. He was just so quiet. Him and Reggie Williams were identical. They both had smooth games, but very little came out of their mouth. It was unusual. Growing up in the city, normally everybody’s a little aggressive and outgoing and outspoken, but for some reason those two never developed those traits. They always had the quiet demeanor amongst themselves and kind of conducted themselves in that matter.”
What does the All-Star Game mean for the Hornets and Charlotte?
Bogues: “We feel great, and I’m quite sure the City of Charlotte feels the same way. Losing it in 2017 based on a law that was in place and having it come back in 2019 is really a blessing in disguise. Economically as well as cultural-wise, it’s great that’s back in Charlotte in 2019. We’re really excited about it. The fans can’t be talking about it enough. They’re looking forward to rubbing elbows with the best players in the world, knowing that they will be so accessible during that time, so the City of Charlotte is excited.”
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