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‘I changed kids’ perspectives’: Muggsy Bogues, the 5ft 3in star who broke NBA norms

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The NBA season just ended last week, but the teams are already looking to the future. Thursday night college stars like Auburn Jabari Smith Jr. and international perspectives such as the French Phenomenon Usman Dieng will look forward to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver naming them and changing their lives forever in the process. It’s a ritual almost as old as the NBA itself: the first draft was held 75 years ago, before the NBA’s second season.

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And this year marks the 35th anniversary of one of the brightest picks in the long history of the NBA draft. In 1987, the Washington Bullets drafted Muggsy Boguz – all 5ft 3in – with the 12th overall pick.

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Bullets fans had reason to doubt their team’s choice. Bogues is still the lowest NBA player ever, a fact that has led many scouts to question Bogues’ ability to survive, let alone thrive, in the league. For context: The average height of an NBA player at the time Boguz was selected. was 6 feet 7 inches. At 5ft 9in, Isaiah Thomas, the shortest player in the NBA last season, towers over Bogz by six inches.

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Connected: Every NBA team should have a special heel like Draymond Green.

All fears about Boguz soon dissipated. He continued to play in the league for 14 years, most notably for 10 seasons with the Charlotte Hornets. And the draft always evokes memories of the moment his name was called.

“Every year brings those feelings back again,” Bogz tells The Guardian. “Draft Night was a special moment for me, for my family, for Baltimore. [Bogues’ hometown] … Everything was numb when I heard my name … the weight of the world fell from my shoulders.

Because of his incredible run up the league, Bogs has always been a fan favorite. He was a regular starter throughout his career but was never named an All-Star. However, his charisma and success against the odds helped him become one of the NBA’s best-selling faces in the 1990s.

“People 30 [years of age] and they may have seen my basketball,” Bogz says, “but kids over 30… that’s Space Jam.” He has also appeared on television shows such as Saturday night life as well as Curb Enthusiasmwas mentioned on a song from the influential album A Tribe Called Quest Midnight Marauders and starred in a memorable Sprite commercial.

“You can’t tell the story of basketball without mentioning Mugsy Boguz,” says Jacob Whitty, co-author Recent memory of mistakes, Muggsy: My life from a child in projects to the godfather of Smallball. “He’s one of a kind.”

Muggsy Bogues: 'Draft Night Was a Special Moment for Me, My Family & Baltimore'
Muggsy Bogues: Draft Night was a special moment for me, my family and Baltimore. Photo: Focus on Sports/Getty Images

However, Bogez’s triumphant history can sometimes overshadow his extraordinary abilities on the court. It’s a shame, as aspects of Boguz’s game are unique. Simply put, Bogz has the most reliable hands ever to handle an NBA basketball.

This is a bold claim, but the evidence backs it up. A statistic called assist-to-assist ratio (Ast/T) places a player’s abilities in assist in the context of their propensity to lose. This is an imperfect statistic, but it gives an indication of a player’s ability to control the ball. An Ast/T ratio of 2.5, for example, describes a player who averages two and a half passes for every pass he makes.

Bogz’s career Ast/T ratio of 4.69 is by far the highest among the NBA’s top 100 assists leaders to date. The only other player in the top 100 with Ast/T above 4.0 is Point of God Chris Paul. In fact, Bogz still tops the Ast/T rankings, even if the list expands to include the top 200 in assists. Or the top 300. Or 400. Bogz is proud of his record. “I take pride in taking care of basketball so that we have more opportunities to score,” he says. “As a point guard, you have to take care of basketball.”

Prior to this last season, Bogz also held the NBA record for most games with at least 10 assists and zero turnovers. This statistic is missing a nickname like “triple-double” or “Maddux“. Perhaps, given Bogz’s years of dominance in this category, the 10th assist and zero turnover should be called “muggsy”..

Statistics, of course, never tell the whole story – Michael Jordan’s scoring titles alone don’t convey aesthetic perfection.”Shot“. Luckily, there are moments in Bogz’s career that testify to his ability. Speaking of Jordan, one of Bogz’s signature plays was defensive stance against His Air himself during the 1995 playoffs.. The game ended with a disappointingly confusing “illegal defense” claim, but Bogz stole the ball from Jordan just before the whistle blew. The sequence of events and the “purity” of Boguz’s streak has become a frequent topic of controversy among NBA fans. There are no arguments for Boguz. “It was definitely clean streak,” he says. “[Jordan] was talking some nonsense saying he was going to support me, so I told him to bring it.”

However, the favorite aspect of Bogz’s career seems to be neither his statistical superiority nor his noteworthy defense against Dream Team alumni. Rather, he especially likes the impact he has on the younger generation. “It’s the coolest thing,” he says, “to change kids’ perspectives.”

Among those kids was current NBA Finals MVP Stephen Curry. “When you’re a kid, you’re like, ‘OK, 5’3”. How much longer until I grow to 5 feet 3 inches, and then maybe I can play in the NBA? ”Curry writes in the introduction to Bogz’s memoirs. Such is the lasting impact of Bogez’s career on smaller players – he provided them not only with a role model, but also with the opportunity to dream.

Discussing this year’s draft, Bogues was surprised to learn that the University of Tennessee is outstanding. Kennedy Chandler the shortest player expected to be selected in the first round. Chandler is just under 6 feet tall.

“Oh my God, we have to change this,” says Bogz. “We gotta get those 5ft 2in [player] come.”

Bogues has no hesitation in relinquishing his record as the smallest player in NBA history.

“That’s what records are made for… I can’t wait, I’ll be elated when it happens,” he laughs. “Hopefully still alive.”

When the time comes, this player will have to fill the giant shoes.


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