Published on February 24th 2010 by Leon Shepherd

With the average height in the NBA being 6’7’’, it’s amazing how anyone 6 feet or under, could even dream of making an NBA team, much less have a successful career.  Well the following is a list of 10 basketball players who achieved success in the NBA. Despite being well under 6 feet, these players proved that with determination, desire and talent, they could overcome obstacles and live their dreams. This list, as you may have already guessed, is based solely on height, and recognizes the top 10 shortest NBA players to have ever played the game.


10.  Avery Johnson – 5’ 10 ½’’


Avery Johnson is a retired professional basketball player and former head coach of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks. Johnson is known as the “Little General” for his small (by NBA standards) stature.  Johnson played 16 years in the NBA, and is best known for his time with the San Antonio Spurs (1991, 1992–1993, 1994–2001), particularly his integral role on the 1999 Spurs team that won the NBA championship against the New York Knicks in which he hit the championship-clinching shot in Game 5. In April 2006, Johnson was named 2006 NBA Coach of the Year Award, and led the Dallas Mavericks to their first ever NBA Finals appearance. Johnson is currently an NBA analyst for ESPN.


9. Damon Stoudamire – 5’ 10’’


Damon Lamon Stoudamire is a retired professional basketball player. The 5 ft 10 in, 171 lb  point guard was selected with the 7th overall pick by the Toronto Raptors in the 1995 NBA Draft and won the 1995-96 NBA Rookie of the Year Award. Stoudamire had a noteworthy rookie season with the Toronto Raptors, being the teams first ever draft pick, and averaging 9.3 assists and 19 points per game. He earned the nickname “Mighty Mouse” because he stands only 5 ft 10, and that he had a Mighty Mouse tattoo on his right arm going into his rookie season. Stoudamire is currently an assistant coach with the Memphis Grizzlies.


8. Michael Adams – 5’ 10’’



 Michael Adams is a former NBA player and basketball coach. After starring at Boston College, the 5’10″ point guard was selected by the Sacramento Kings in the 3rd round of the 1985 NBA Draft. In his second season he played with the Washington Bullets, but Adams had his best season in 1990-1991, when he averaged 26.5 points (including a 54 point game) and 10.5 assists per game while playing for the Denver Nuggets. After that breakout season, he rejoined the Bullets via a trade, during which time he appeared in his first NBA All-Star Game in 1992. Adams retired in 1996 with career totals of 9,621 points and 4,209 assists, and remains among the all-time league leaders in three-point field goals made and attempted.


7. Calvin Murphy – 5’ 9’’


Calvin Murphy is a retired professional basketball player who played as a guard for the NBA’s Houston Rockets from 1970-1983. Calvin Murphy was drafted by the San Diego Rockets (now the Houston Rockets) as the first pick in the second round (18th overall) of the 1970 NBA Draft. In his first season, Murphy was nominated to the NBA All-Rookie team. A diminutive guard, Murphy was known for his quickness and defensive ability. Murphy was one of the best free-throw shooters ever, setting NBA records for most consecutive free throws made and for the highest free throw percentage in a season in 1980-1981. He set many records within the Rockets organization, including that of all-time leading scorer until that record was broken in 1994 by Hakeem Olajuwon. Murphy and the Rockets made it to the NBA Finals in 1981, losing to the Boston Celtics in six games. After retiring from the NBA in 1983, Calvin Murphy was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1993.


6. Nate Robinson  5’8 ½”


Nathaniel Cornelius Robinson is a professional basketball player. Robinson is listed at 5 feet 9 inches with shoes, and has a vertical leap of 43.5 inches. Robinson began his career with the New York Knicks. After a series of disagreements, Coach Mike D’Antoni removed Robinson from the Knicks’ rotation for 14 games beginning on December 1, 2009. Robinson’s agent, Aaron Goodwin, urged the Knicks to deal his client, or perhaps work out a buy-out with the team. After remaining on the bench for nearly a month, Robinson made his return on January 1, 2010, against the Atlanta Hawks and scored 41 points, off the bench, in the Knicks’ victory. On February 13, 2010, Robinson won the 2010 NBA Slam Dunk Contest, becoming the first three-time Slam Dunk champion. On February 18, 2010, Robinson was traded to the Boston Celtics.


5. Charlie Criss – 5’ 8’’


Charles Washington Criss, Jr. is a former professional basketball player. A 5’8″ guard from New Mexico State University, Criss began his professional career in the Continental Basketball Association, earning league Most Valuable Player honors with the Scranton Apollos in 1976. He joined the Atlanta Hawks of the National Basketball Association the following year, and played eight seasons in the league with the Hawks, San Diego Clippers and Milwaukee Bucks. When he entered the NBA, Criss was the league’s shortest active player. In his NBA career, Criss averaged 8.5 points and 3.2 assists per game, his best year being his first, posting averages of 11 points and 4 assists in 77 games. Since retiring as a player, he worked as a golf instructor, an Atlanta Hawks television color commentator, a minor-league basketball coach and a basketball summer camp coordinator.


4. Greg Grant – 5’ 7’’


Gregory (Greg) Alan Grant is a retired professional basketball player. Growing up in a broken home, Grant worked in a fish market after high school. After being discovered at the local playground, the 5’7″ point guard was offered a Trenton State College scholarship in New Jersey in 1986, where he led Division III scoring in 1989. That same year he was selected with the 52nd pick by the Phoenix Suns in the NBA Draft. Grant played in the NBA from 1989 to 1996. He currently runs a sports and academic academy in Trenton. The autobiography of his life entitled 94 Feet and Rising: The Journey of Greg Grant to the NBA and Beyond is scheduled to be published soon.


3. Spud Webb – 5’ 6 ½’’


Anthony Jerome Webb, better known as Spud Webb, is a retired NBA professional basketball point guard. He is currently the President of Basketball Operations for the unnamed D-League franchise in Frisco,Texas. During his senior season in high school, at 5 feet 5 inches,Webb threw down his first dunk. Webb is the shortest person to compete in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest. He won the event in 1986. His participation surprised the media; including his teammate and defending dunk champion Dominique Wilkins, who had never seen him dunk before. His dunks included the elevator two-handed double pump dunk, the one-handed off the backboard one-handed jam, a 360-degree helicopter one-handed dunk, a 180-degree reverse double-pump slam, and finally, the 180-degree reverse two-handed strawberry jam from a lob bounce off the floor. He defeated Wilkins with two perfect 150-point scores in the final round.



2. Earl Boykins – 5’5’’

 Earl Boykins is a professional basketball player currently playing for the Washington Wizards. Standing at 5 feet, 5 inches in height, he is the second shortest player in NBA history. Boykins NBA listed weight of 133 pounds also makes him the lightest player in NBA history. Despite his light weight, he is reportedly able to bench press 315 pounds. His current playing weight is 139 pounds. On November 11, 2004, while playing with the Denver Nuggets, Boykins scored 32 points in a 117-109 Nuggets’ home win over the Detroit Pistons, making him the shortest player in NBA history to score 30 or more points during a game. On November 11, 2009, Boykins signed with the Washington Wizards.


1. Muggsy Bogues – 5’3”


Tyrone Curtis “Muggsy” Bogues is a retired professional basketball point guard. He played for four teams during his 14-season career in the National Basketball Association, best known for his involvement with the Charlotte Hornets. He also played for the Washington Bullets, Golden State Warriors, and the Toronto Raptors. Bogues holds the record for being the shortest player to play in the NBA, at 5ft. 3in. Despite his height, Bogues managed to block 39 shots throughout his NBA span including one on Patrick Ewing. This happened on April 14, 1993 in the first quarter when Ewing was pulling the ball back to go up for the shot and Bogues stripped him of the ball. He was credited with the block, and footage of the block was shown in 1996 on NBA Action. He currently works for the Charlotte Bobcats in their front office. His autobiography, In The Land of Giants, recounts the struggles of growing up in inner-city Baltimore and achieving success in the NBA.

Sports | Comments (8)

8 Responses to “Top 10 Shortest NBA Players”

  1. Shack Says:

    Excellent work and research as usual but I have never heard of Greg Grant. Can’t argue with the list as you go from the tallest little man to the shortest.

  2. Trisha Says:

    I can only recognize a few of the players but I guess the smaller you are the more you have to over come, in the NBA at least. This list proves one point, size does not always matter.

  3. Marcus Says:

    I recognize most of the players on this list. Michael Adams was one of the best “small men” ever to play the game. Good job!

  4. Leon Says:

    Thanks Marcus!

  5. Karen Says:

    Dynomite comes in small packages
    Great info

  6. Straaw Says:

    Monte Towe was 5’7″played with David Thompson at NC state and with the Denver Nuggets. U covered the main ones, though. Oh yeah! He ain’t black. Tyus Edney was 5’9″

  7. Straaw Says:

    Even though he was listed at 6’1″ Nate Archibald was really 5’11″. Allen Iverson as well. And don’t forget Patrick Pratt- I’m 5’11″ and could dunk!LOL! seriously.

  8. jordanfannumber1 Says:

    Good job,excellent job.
    On the other hand this show sports,baketball indeed
    is not for tall players but for goods ones.