15 Shortest NBA Players of All Time

When we say NBA players, we immediately think about some of the tallest players in the sports world. In NBA, most players have an average height of 6 feet 6 inches (1.98 m). Players with a height of 5 feet 9 inches (1.79 m) or less are considered short among NBA players. But who are the shortest players ever to play in the league?

Shortest Players In the NBA
Shortest Players In the NBA (Source: Yardbarker.com)

A tall height gives a player an advantage and helps him overpower his opponents. However, height is not everything, as the smaller players have proved they have athleticism and are quick on their feet.

So in this article, we have compiled a list of the fifteen shortest players who have played in the league. Despite their short height, their abilities makeup for it.

Quick Overview

Let us look at the highlight of our list first.

Player NameHeight
15. Lionel Malamed1.75 m (5 ft. 9 in)
14. Charlie Hoefer1.75 m (5 ft. 9 in)
13. Howie Carl1.75 m (5 ft. 9 in)
12. Willie Somerset1.73 m (5 ft. 8 in)
11. Dino Martin1.73 m (5 ft. 8 in)
10. Charlie Criss1.73 m (5 ft. 8 in)
9. Monte Towe1.70 m (5 ft. 7 in)
8. Wataru Misaka1.70 m (5 ft. 7 in)
7. Red Klotz1.70 m (5 ft. 7 in)
6. Keith Jennings1.70 m (5 ft. 7 in)
5. Greg Grant1.70 m (5 ft. 7 in)
4. Spud Webb1.70 m (5 ft. 7 in)
3. Mel Hirsch1.68 m (5 ft. 6 in)
2. Earl Boykins1.65 m (5 ft. 5 in)
1. Muggsy Bogues1.60 m (5 ft. 3 in)

15 Shortest NBA Players

We have prepared our list with references from WIKIPEDIA

15. Lionel Malamed

Lionel Malamed was a professional basketball player who played one season in NBA. Born on November 15, 1924, he played college basketball at City College of New York from 1948 to 1950.

Malamed played for the NBA franchise Indianapolis Jets for one season. Similarly, outside NBA, he played for the Rochester Royals and Paterson Crescents. His average was 5.9 points in 44 games.

Lionel Malamed
Lionel Malamed (Source: Alchetron)

One of the shortest NBA players, Malamed, passed away at age 64 from a heart attack on September 17, 1989.

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14. Charlie Hoefer

The 14th shortest NBA player on our list is Charlie Hoefer. The professional basketball player was born in Frankfurt, Germany, on September 16, 1921.

Hoefer began his professional career with Wilmington Bombers in 1941. Similarly, he played for the Camden/Brooklyn Indians and Toronto Huskies, after which the Huskies traded him to Boston Celtics.

Charlie Hoefer
Charlie Hoefer (Source: Spigel)

In 1947, Hoefer made his NBA debut with the Celtics and played two seasons with the franchise. He passed away at the age of 61 on June 12, 1983.

13. Howie Carl

Born on June 7, 1938, Howie Carl was a professional basketball player who played for the Chicago Packers (now Washington Wizards).

He attended DePaul University, where he played collegiate basketball.

Howie Carl
Howie Carl (Source: Digital Collections)

The Packers drafted Carl in the fifth round, 50th overall in the 1961 NBA Draft. He played one season and 31 games with the team as a point guard.

Carl, one of the shortest NBA players, died at age 67 on October 24, 2005.

12. Willie Somerset

Number 12 on our list of the 15 shortest NBA players is Willie Somerset. He is a former basketball player who played in the point guard position and has a height of 1.76 meters (5 feet 8 inches).

Somerset played college basketball at Duquense University. The Baltimore Bullets (now Washington Wizards) drafted him in the seventh round as the 56th overall pick at the 1965 NBA Draft.

Willie Somerset
Willie Somerset (Source: NASL Jerseys)

Similarly, Somerset played for another NBA team New York Mets, in 1969.

Outside NBA, he has played for the Johnstown C.J.’s, Scranton Miners, Houston Mavericks, and East Orange Colonials.

11. Dino Martin

Dino Martin was born Patrick Donald “Dino” Martin on May 25, 1920. He was a professional basketball player and was the direct forerunner to the NBA from 1946 to 1948.

Martin played basketball in his high school and college years. In his college senior year, he averaged 6.6 points and 4.3 points per game.

Dino Martin
Dino Martin (Source: Peach Basket Society)

From 1946 to 1948, Martin played for the BAA team, Providence Steamrollers.

After retiring from his professional playing career, he served as a coach for Boston College’s men’s basketball team from 1953 to 1962.

He passed away at the age of 79 on July 24, 1999.

10. Charlie Criss

The next player on our list of the 15 shortest NBA players is former professional basketball player Charlie Criss. He made his NBA debut with the Atlanta Hawks in 1977.

Criss started his professional career with Scranton Apollos in 1975. Before that, he played college basketball at New Mexico State University. He entered the 1970 NBA Draft but was left undrafted.

Charlie Criss
Charlie Criss (Source: Sports Management Degree Hub)

Aside from the Hawks, Criss also played for other NBA franchises like San Diego Clippers and Milwaukee Bucks. He averaged 8.5 points and 3.2 assists per game in his NBA career.

After retiring from his professional playing career, Criss worked as a minor-league basketball coach and a basketball summer camp coordinator.

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9. Monte Towe

Monte Towe is a former professional basketball player and the ninth shortest NBA player with a height of 1.73 meters (5 feet 7 inches). He played college basketball for North Carolina State University’s men’s basketball team.

The Atlanta Hawks selected Towe in the fourth round of the 1975 NBA Draft. Similarly, the Denver Nuggets drafted him in the third round of the 1975 ABA Draft.

From 1975 to 1977, he played with the Nuggets.

Monte Towe
Monte Towe (Source: Wikipedia)

Towe retired from his professional playing career and transitioned into a coach. He began his coaching career in 1978 as an assistant coach for NC State.

8. Wataru Misaka

Next is Wataru Misaka, who was a former professional basketball player. He was the first non-white and Asian descent player to play in the NBA (formerly known as BAA.)

Misaka attended the University of Utah, where he played college basketball. The New York Knicks drafted him in the seventh round as the 61st overall pick of the 1947 draft.

Wataru Misaka
Wataru Misaka (Source: The New York Times)

Misaka broke the color barrier in professional basketball. His career in NBA was brief, and he played only three games for the Knicks during the 1947-48 season.

7. Red Klotz

Number 7 on our list of the 15 shortest NBA players is a former basketball player, Red Klotz. Born on October 21, 1920, he was the oldest-living champion in the NBA league.

For college, Koltz attended Villanova University on an athletic scholarship and played college basketball. After World War II broke out, he left college to serve in the army.

Red Klotz
Red Klotz For Phila Sphas (Source: Facebook)

In 1942, Koltz began his professional basketball journey with the Philadelphia Spha. He made his NBA (BBA before) debut in 1947 with the Baltimore Bullets and won the 1948 BAA champion title.

Koltz played and coached over 14,000 games in eight decades and over 100 countries during his basketball career. 

6. Keith Jennings

The sixth shortest NBA player on our list is a former professional basketball player, Keith Jennings. His professional career spanned from 1991 to 2004.

Jennings played college basketball at East Tennessee State. He entered the 1991 NBA Draft but was left undrafted. Then he made his professional career debut with the Jacksonville Hooters in 1991.

Keith Jennings
Keith Jennings (Source: NBA.com)

In 1992, Jennings made his NBA debut with the Golden State Warriors as a free agent. He played three seasons with the franchise. Outside NBA, he has also played professional basketball in European leagues.

Jennings made his coaching debut in 2004 for the Highland School.

5. Greg Grant

Greg Grant is a former basketball player whose professional playing career spanned from 1989 to 1998. He was born on August 29, 1966, and played in the position of a point guard.

Grant played college basketball at The College of New Jersey and led the 1989 Division III in scoring.

The Phoenix Suns drafted him in the second round of the 1989 NBA Draft as the 52nd overall pick.

Greg Grant
Greg Grant Shooting For The Philadelphia Sixers (Source: Frames, Plaques, and More)

In his professional career, Grant played for several NBA teams like New York Knicks, Charlotte Hornets, Philadelphia 76ers, Denver Nuggets, etc. Similarly, he also played outside NBA professionally.

After retiring from his professional playing career, he worked as the head coach for Trenton Central High School in 2010.

Also Read About 17 Youngest NBA Players

4. Spud Webb

Number 4 on our list of the 15 shortest NBA players is former professional basketball player Spud Webb. Despite being one of the shortest NBA players, he is well known for winning a Slam Dunk Contest.

Webb began his professional career in 1985 with the United States Basketball League team, Rhode Island Gulls. The Detroit Pistons selected him in the fourth round of the 1985 NBA Draft as the 87th overall pick.

Spud Webb
Spud Webb (Source: Pinterest)

However, Webb made his NBA debut in 1985 with Atlanta Hawks. He played for other NBA teams like Sacramento Kings, Minnesota Timberwolves, and Orlando Magic during his career.

While playing with the Hawks, Webb became the NBA Slam Dunk Contest champion in 1986. Currently, he is the president of the Dallas Mavericks NBA G League team, Texas Legends.

3. Mel Hirsch

The third shortest NBA player on our list is Mel Hirsch.

The former professional basketball player was born on July 31, 1921, and was the shortest player in NBA for more than 40 years until Muggsy Bogues left him behind.

During his college year at Brooklyn College, Hirsch was one of the stand-out players. After his graduation in 1943, he served in the U.S. Army Air Corps and played basketball on the squadron’s offer team.

Mel Hirsch
Mel Hirsch (Source: Pro Basketball Encyclopedia)

Hirsch played in NBA for a brief period in the 1946-1947 season with the Boston Celtics and only played 13 games. He passed away at age 47 from leukemia in December 1968.

2. Earl Boykins

Number 2 on our list of the 15 shortest NBA players is Earl Boykins, with a height of 1.67 meters (5 feet 5 inches). He is a former professional basketball player whose career spanned from 1998 to 2012.

Boykins entered the 1998 NBA Draft but was left undrafted. He started his professional career with Rockford Lighting in 1998. He made his NBA debut in 1999 for the New Jersey Nets.

Earl Boykins And Shaq Height Comparison
Earl Boykins And Shaq Height Comparison (Source: PlayersBio)

During his career, Boykins played for several NBA teams like Cleveland Cavaliers, Orlando Magic, Los Angeles Clippers, Golden State Warriors, Denver Nuggets, Milwaukee Bucks, Washington Wizards, and Houston Rockets.

After his retirement, Boykins transitioned into coaching. Currently, he is the assistant coach for the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) Miners.

1. Muggsy Bogues

The shortest basketball player to play in NBA is former basketball player Muggsy Bogues. He is the shortest player with a height of 1.60 meters (5 feet 3 inches). His professional playing career spanned from 1987 to 2001.

Bogues attended Wake Forest University and played college basketball. He started playing basketball professionally in 1987 with the United States Basketball League team, Rhode Islands Gulls.

Muggsy Bogues And Michal Jordan
Muggsy Bogues And Michal Jordan (Source: NPR)

The Washington Bullets drafted Bogues in the first round of the 1987 NBA Draft as the 12th overall pick.

Similarly, he also played for the Charlotte Hornets, Golden State Warriors, and Toronto Raptors.

Bogues is best known for playing ten seasons with the Hornets. After retiring from his playing career, he started coaching and served as the head coach for Charlotte Sting and United Faith Christian Academy.

Conclusion

These players may lack in height; their athleticism makes up for it. They have proved they can overcome the disadvantages when they have the skills.

Despite being seen as an underdog, they have given many memorable NBA game moments. 

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