Muggsy Bogues continues to inspire players to dream big

Published March 9, 2023, 1:00 PMPolo Bustamante
Polo Bustamante

Muggsy Bogues, the shortest player to ever play in the NBA, did not let his size get in the way of fulfilling his dream. His mission is to inspire kids to do the same.

“Being the size that I was, I never thought about my height. Other folks did. I just thought of myself as a basketball player and trying to reach a dream that I was carrying around in my head my entire life.”

Those are some big words coming from someone that stood at just 5’3”. But then again, if that someone is Muggsy Bogues, then he has every right to proclaim that size – or a lack thereof – shouldn’t be a problem.

That’s because Muggsy, the shortest player to ever play in the NBA, had a long and productive career. He played 14 seasons for four teams and was regarded as one of the peskiest, yet steadiest point guards in the league during his time.

To be able to have the career that he had, despite his small stature, Muggsy had to have incredible confidence, especially when facing off against the superstar guards of his era. That confidence started at a young age.

“The confidence started at an early age when I was going through my challenges growing up in the inner city of Baltimore,” Bogues shared during an NBA Connections 2.0 session, an NBA initiative that facilitates opportunities for regional media partners across Asia-Pacific to interact with NBA players and legend. “Getting shot at the age of five, overcoming that, you feel like any type of challenge that you face, you definitely can overcome that.”

Those early life challenges gave him an unshakeable confidence that even his frame couldn’t contain. He continued to defy the odds, succeeding at every level of basketball that he played in. Once he made it to the league, there wasn’t anyone that could pull him out of there.

“Once I got to the NBA, I always had the mindset that if I play against the best, if I have success against the best, I must be included with the best. And that approach, taking the court every time allowed me to be the player that I wanted to be,” he explained about how he approached playing in the NBA.

Muggsy not only had the confidence, he also had the unique skill and proper mindset to play in the big leagues.

“I understood the game which allowed me to play for 14 years in the NBA,” he said proudly. “Working on my skill set, understanding the position I had to play — point guard – running my team, making the guys around me better. Being able to get my [shots] off at the same time. And defensively, just being a pest, making sure that the guys have to work extremely hard just to get the ball past half court, because I knew as a point guard that’s where it all started.”

Muggsy has a wealth of knowledge to share, given his expansive NBA career. That’s why he’s always ready to teach kids through the various NBA youth programs. That’s also allowed him to travel the world and see the same kind of determination he had in kids that have the same build as him.

His advice to these kids is simple.

“You’ve got to stop thinking about your size and not use size as an excuse. Because you have someone that was small that has already done it,” he said. “You had small players that were able to do it, and the way they were able to do it was because they didn’t think about their size.”

Muggsy is a one of a kind player. He’s so close to the ground that he manages to scrape his knuckles on the basketball court floor when pulling off his lightning-quick crossover. There might be another LeBron James or Shaquille O’Neal in the future. But there might never be another Muggsy Bogues.

His wish, though, is to not be the last Muggsy Bogues. That’s why he’s making it his mission to continue to inspire players of all shapes and sizes, hopefully helping them achieve their dream of making it big in the NBA.

“We talked about the people in China, people in Indonesia, as well as in the Philippines, considered as small-statured individuals that are believing and dreaming out there, that possibly one day, fulfill their own dreams,” he said. “All it takes is a kid to believe. So I’m just hoping one day that we do see another Muggsy Bogues in my lifetime.”