The Charlotte Hornets have amassed quite a few fan favorites over the years. There is one player who stands above most of them all, however. Or should I say below them? Let’s take a look back at Muggsy Bogues.
When you think of the Charlotte Hornets and their past players, you think of names like Larry Johnson, Alonzo Mourning, and Baron Davis. There is one name, however, that true fans will never forget and that name is Tyrone “Muggsy” Bogues.
For much of the 90’s, Muggsy Bogues, or simply just Muggsy, as most people called him, was a mainstay at point guard for the Charlotte Hornets. While Bogues was certainly a fan favorite throughout his tenure in Charlotte, it wasn’t necessarily his stats that made him so beloved. He was a serviceable point guard and did a lot of the little things you won’t find on a stat line, but fans remember him for something entirely different: His diminutive stature. Listed at 5’3″, 136 pounds, Bogues is still the shortest player to ever play in the NBA.
Many questioned whether or not Muggsy could even compete at the NBA level given his height and frame. Coming out of Wake Forest, there were concerns about his ability to play with the “big boys.” Still, that didn’t stop the then Washington Bullets from drafting him 12th overall in the 1987 NBA draft. Oddly enough, this would pair him with the tallest player in the NBA, Manute Bol, who stood at 7’7″.
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His rookie season would be his only season in Washington, as he would be selected by Charlotte in the 1988 expansion draft. Muggsy would prove to be an integral part in the Hornets’ success in the mid 90’s. He was an excellent passer, averaging almost eight assists per game in his time in Charlotte. He was also durable, despite his small stature, at least early in his Hornets career. He only missed 14 games in his first 7 seasons. He wasn’t much of a scorer, really, averaging 7.7 points throughout his entire career.
Despite not putting up mind-blowing stats, Muggsy was still a star, at least to avid fans. In fact, he even starred in the movie Space Jam, as one of the beleaguered NBA stars who had their abilities stolen by the nefarious Monstars.
The 1997-1998 season would be Bogues’ last in Charlotte. Shortly into the season, he was traded away to the Golden State Warriors. He would spend a few years in Golden State before finally ending his career with the Toronto Raptors. To this day, he is still the Hornets’ all-time leader in assists, steals, assists per game, and minutes played.
After playing basketball, Muggsy would actually be hired as the head coach of the now-defunct Charlotte Sting before the team was eliminated from the WNBA in 2007.
Although he is the shortest player to ever play in the NBA, Muggsy wasn’t the first little guy in the league. Still, I think he helped inspire a lot of future “shorter than average guards” out there. Players like Nate Robinson, Isaiah Thomas, or Earl Boykins probably saw players like Bogues or Spud Webb and felt like they deserved a spot in the league as well.
Today, Muggsy is active with multiple charities, youth basketball camps, and other ventures to help better communities and teach children valuable lessons through basketball. He also will show up to Hornets games every once in a while. You might see him hanging out with his old buddy, Dell Curry or taking pictures with fans.
Though he played for other teams, Bogues will always be remembered as a Charlotte Hornet. He played his best years in the Queen City and helped the team to their initial playoff successes. For a guy that small, he certainly made a huge mark on this city and its one that older fans won’t forget. If anything, he showed that sometimes, heartbeats height.