Muggsy Bogues | For the Love of the Game

The Legend of Muggsy Bogues: A Quick Recap of His Career and Accomplishments

NBA legend, USA national team member, first rounder as the 12th overall draft pick in the 1987 NBA draft, Hall of Fame consecutive nominee — the list goes on for the former 5’3” NBA star Muggsy Bogues. Regardless of his height, Muggsy stormed the court every game and carved out a special name for himself in NBA history: The Shortest to Ever Do It.

In this Men of Great Heights profile, we don’t want to focus on just Muggsy’s height. We want to highlight what he’s done outside of that. Muggsy’s accomplishments in the NBA alone are deserving of recognition. 

"People always say we'll probably never see another Larry Bird," Hornet coach Allan Bristow says. "But I've always felt we have a better chance of seeing another Larry Bird than we do another Muggsy Bogues.” - Allan Bristow [source]

When The Odds Are Stacked Against You, Make Them For You

As the shortest basketball player in NBA history, Muggsy Bogues is a testament to the fact that us short men can accomplish anything we set our minds to. When most people are told this, they often dismiss it as a heady aspiration. “Well, can I really accomplish anything? I doubt that.” we tell ourselves. While there may be some limits to one’s accomplishments, the fact is we need to reframe our mindset into one that pushes us past any adversity.

The odds of making it to the NBA as a high school basketball player is .03%. And that’s regardless of your height! If you’re shorter, the odds are even lower. Sure, the NBA was a different league in Muggsy’s time, but how much of that really matters? Muggsy played with and against Manute Bol, a 7’7” tall behemoth of a basketball player. And guess what? He still performed his best. Muggsy has even blocked one of the tallest players in NBA history, Patrick Ewing, who stands 7’0” tall. 

“Bogues is a remarkable overachiever who excels through sheer lack of size. He makes the game adapt to him.” - [source]

Whatever the word “game” means to us, the lesson is we need to make it adapt to our talents. Not just our natural talent, but the talent and skill we’ve developed over years of hard work. Whether it’s at work, when dating, or on the court like Muggsy, we need to acknowledge our own talent and not let height get in the way of what we want to accomplish. Regardless of the odds, the challenge is not to overcome our height but embrace it, and challenge the notion that height holds us back.

Turning “Weakness” Into Strength

“The Dilemma, As Tyrone (Muggsy) Bogues sized it up, was that the pants to the dinosaur costume were too long, not that his legs were too short.” [source] This simple reframing of a common problem is a small, but powerful detail. When we think about our weaknesses, we often come to the conclusion that we can’t do anything about them. We should double down on our strengths and overcompensate for our weaknesses. That’s not what Muggsy did. He took his “weakness” and made it his strength.

“Muggsy is a great testimony to the fact that speed kills.” - Kareem Abdul-Jabbar [source]

Muggsy was known for his speed and agility on the court. What people saw as a weakness (his height), he turned into a strength by suddenly “disappearing” during a play only for you to realize he stole the ball from you and is already halfway down the court. How is a 7’0” giant supposed to keep track of a 5’3” speedster with elite ball control and court awareness?

The Relatable Superhero

Watching Muggsy play as a kid was undoubtedly one of the most inspiring and yet grounding experiences of my life. This 5’3” point guard was in the big leagues with players who can jump over cars? Not only was he playing with them, but he was winning.

"When kids see the other players, it's always 'Mr. Curry' and 'Mr. Mourning,' " Kim says, "but I have never heard a child call him anything other than Muggsy. They feel like he's one of them." - [source]

Modern day superheroes are aspirational beings. Their superpowers give them the ability to save the world, and us common folk are meant to just survive while they do their thing. But Muggsy refused to give into that ideal, and he succeeded despite the norm. 

What We Can Learn From Muggsy Bogues

Muggsy’s historic career as a basketball player is one that touches the hearts of many people. He’s an example of what happens when you work hard and use your unique talents to the best of your ability. He completely upended people’s expectations of what an NBA player can look like.

“"I look up to Muggsy," says 6'10" teammate Ralph Kitley, with a straight face.”” [source]

As shorter men, we face height discrimination in many aspects of our lives. Whether it’s in the workplace, in dating, or in sports, height affects us in one way or another. But let’s all take a note from Muggsy Bogues and reframe the narrative we tell ourselves. Height matters, until it doesn’t.

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