Why do we like the little guy in basketball? Because it reminds us of ourselves, the ones who missed out on the two-foot growth spurt that we swear could make us into NBA players? Because it gives us a glance at someone doing something they aren’t exactly supposed to do? Maybe. We like underdogs.
Dallas’ J.J. Barea fits that mold. The whirling dervish dropped 17 points and five assists on the Miami Heat in Game 5 of the NBA Finals. How can a guy who’s not even 6-feet tall – teammate Brian Cardinal said he might be 6-feet in stilettos – do this over giants? And how did he score Miss Universe 2006 being so short? And is she taller than him when she’s wearing stilettos?
Either way, Barea is cementing his place amongst the best players 6-feet or smaller. At 26 years old, his career numbers of 7.1 points and 2.9 assists per game are only on the rise.
In honor of the little guy, I take a look at some of the NBA’s five best small ballers like your elementary school class photo; in line from shortest to tallest.
*** *** ***
Tyrone “Muggsy” Bogues (5-3)
Who is the smallest of them all? Bogues is king of all short basketball players. Even at 135 pounds, his career stretched the course of 14 seasons where he averaged 7.7 points and 7.6 assists per outing, and in two of his seasons he surpassed the 10 assist per game threshold. Impressively, Bogues survived the physicality and grind of the NBA while spending the majority of his career with the Charlotte Hornets.
After retirement, he was briefly the head coach of the WNBA’s Charlotte Sting before the franchise folded after two years of existence. And yes, according to Wikipedia, he was indeed shorter than all of his players.
The most comedic part of his career, though, had to be time spent teaming with the 7-7 Manute Bol on the Washington Bullets.