Tha Sports Junkies 101

The Top 5 NBA Players of All Time Under Six Feet Tall!

NBA History thedanger23 Via Flicker


History: Six Feet Under!

In the new age of 3-point shooting big men and four-forward lineups, small, shifty players may appear to have lost their edge. However, there’s still something majestic and special about watching a guard weave their way in and out of traffic. A quick cut left, a spin right, a miraculous scoop layup, the crowd goes crazy. These players prove that the little guy still has a place in NBA history. They may not be posterizing anybody, but don’t blink or you might miss them. Hold onto your ankles folks; these are the top 5 NBA players of all time under 6 feet.

5. Earl Boykins (5’5″, 1999-2012)

Despite his elusiveness and resilience, Earl Boykins never stuck with one particular team. Boykins played for the New Jersey Nets, Cleveland Cavaliers (twice), Orlando Magic, LA Clippers, Golden State Warriors, Denver Nuggets, Milwaukee Bucks (twice), Charlotte Bobcats, Washington Wizards and Houston Rockets. For those who lost count, that’s ten teams in 14 NBA seasons. Boykins was not drafted in 1998 when he entered the draft, but he signed multiple short-term contracts before catching on with the Denver Nuggets in 2003 (four seasons).

What made Boykins so unique was not only his quickness but his strength. His career average of 8.9ppg was overshadowed by the fact that he could bench 315 pounds with ease. His ability to slip through double teams and find open teammates, despite being towered over by much bigger defenders, was impressive, to say the least. Earl could also create his own shot as well as anybody making $3 million a year. Boykins, who was second in the NCAA in scoring during his 1998 senior season (26.8), had his jersey retired by his alma mater Eastern Michigan University in 2011.

4. Spud Webb (5’7″, 1985-1998)

At 5’7″, Spud Webb is the shortest player in NBA history to compete in and win the NBA Slam Dunk Contest (sorry Nate Robinson). What made Webb’s feat so impressive was who he beat to win the contest. Reigning Slam Dunk champion and Webb’s teammate with the Atlanta Hawks, Dominique Wilkins ended up finishing second behind Webb. According to Webb, Wilkins had never even seen him dunk before the contest. Despite playing for only two teams between 1985 and 1995 (Hawks and Kings), Webb went on to play for two more professional teams, one Italian league team, and an NBA D-League team before he hung up his very small jersey in 1998.

Underestimated and under-scouted at first, Spud Webb faced many doubters during his college days at NC State. Many people thought that he would end up playing overseas or as a member of the Harlem Globetrotters. While Webb’s numbers don’t turn any heads (9.9ppg and 5.3apg in 814 career games), the electricity and excitement that surrounded him every time he took the court were one-of-a-kind. In hindsight, he was the perfect underdog story. The perfect big fight in a small dog. The perfect slam dunk contest dark horse.

3. Isaiah Thomas (5’9″, 2011-Present)

The only player on this list who’s still active; you don’t have to look far to figure out why the fiery Isaiah makes the list. After his emotionally-driven performance in this year’s playoffs, he finally proved his worth as a franchise player. Thomas is the shortest NBA player ever to record a triple-double. He’s the shortest player ever to make an NBA All-Star game, he’s tied with Calvin Murphy, who was also 5’9″. In six seasons in the league Thomas has averaged 19.1ppg, 5.2apg, and a 44% field goal percentage.

Perhaps what’s most impressive with Thomas is his leadership. In just his second full season with Boston, one of the most successful franchises in NBA history, Isaiah asserted his position as the leader in the locker room and on the court. He plays with emotion, with his heart on his sleeve, and you can see it every time he steps out onto the court. Bonus points for having his own documentary, “Road to the NBA – The Isaiah Thomas Story.”

2. Calvin Murphy (5’9″, 1970-1983)

Calvin Murphy was before my time. Odds are, he probably retired before most people reading this article were even born. That doesn’t mean he wasn’t a beast on the court. Arguably the most well-rounded player under six feet tall in NBA history, he was an excellent free throw shooter (89.2%), an excellent scorer (was the Houston Rockets’ all-time leading scorer until Hakeem Olajuwon broke his record in 1994), and possessed extreme quickness on the court. As if that wasn’t enough, many people regard Murphy as one of the best defenders under six feet of all time.

In 1993, Calvin Murphy became the shortest player ever to be inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame. The Norwalk, Connecticut native averaged 17.9ppg and 4.4apg through 13 seasons with just one franchise. Murphy was drafted by the San Diego Rockets, who then became the Houston Rockets in 1971.

1. Allen Iverson (6’0″, 1996-2010)

Okay, before you say anything. This may be cheating, but at 6’0″ and the best pound-for-pound player in NBA history, I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to talk about one of the most exciting players the basketball world has ever witnessed. Iverson brought swagger, charisma, creativity, and a unique style to the NBA. The game changed forever when Iverson entered the league. Watching a highlight tape from AI’s career is genuinely fun. Here, go ahead. I’ll wait. Back? Are you not entertained? Iverson was a new breed of combo guard the likes of which the league had never seen. He brought excitement and energy with him every time that he stepped on the court.

In 14 NBA seasons with four teams (11 with Philadelphia), Iverson averaged 26.7ppg, 6.2apg, 2.2spg, and one step over Tyronn Lue per game (sorry Tyronn Lue). That’s not to mention one of the meanest crossovers in NBA history. More than a basketball player, AI is viewed by many as a revolutionary of the game. The NBA culture, the point guard position, and the style of NBA players. All three things, as well as much more, were heavily impacted by Iverson. Iverson changed the way the game is played and the NBA will never be the same!

Follow TSJ Sports on Twitter @TSJ_Sports and @TSJ_NBA. You can follow me @mholzapfel3.