Shortest Players in NBA History
At 5’9’’, Isaiah Thomas is proof that size does not always matter in pro basketball. The two-time all star overcame numerous heartbreaks and hardships this year to lead the Boston Celtics into the Eastern Conference Finals. Unfortunately, a hip injury ended his season just two games into the series against he Cavaliers, one of the reasons it lasted just five games.
Thomas is technically the 14th shortest player in NBA history, as 12 others have taken the hardwood at 5’9”, including Kay Felder who is currently with the Cavaliers. There are 13 players who were shorter and here they are.
Note: Players listed in alphabetical order by height
— Written by Aaron Tallent, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Tallent is a writer whose articles have appeared in The Sweet Science, FOX Sports’ Outkick the Coverage, Liberty Island and The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter at @AaronTallent.
(Photo courtesy of Getty Images)
Atlanta Hawks (1977-81)
San Diego Clippers (1981-82)
Milwaukee Bucks (1982-84)
Atlanta Hawks (1984-85)
After being cut by the New York Knicks in 1976, Criss kept at it, signing with the Hawks the next season. He went on to have a productive NBA career and opened the door for many of the other players on this list.
Providence Steamrollers (1946-48) – Basketball Association of America (BAA), which merged with National Basketball League to form NBA in 1949
Even with his two seasons in Providence, Martin is better remembered for coaching Boston College men’s basketball from 1953-62.
Baltimore Bullets (1965)
Houston Mavericks (1967-69) – American Basketball Association (ABA)
New York Nets (1969)
Somerset (right, next to 6'10" Mavericks teammate Dewitt Menyard) was an early star in the upstart ABA. After retiring from pro basketball in the early 1970s, he became a pharmacist.
Phoenix Suns (1989-90)
New York Knicks (1990-91)
Charlotte Hornets (1991)
Philadelphia 76ers (1991-93, ‘95)
Denver Nuggets (1995, ‘96)
Washington Bullets (1995-96)
After playing for six different NBA teams in nine seasons, Grant had a successful run as a high school basketball coach in Trenton.
(Photo courtesy of nba.com)
Golden State Warriors (1992-95)
“Mister Jennings” was a fan favorite during his three seasons in Oakland.
(Photo courtesy of nba.com)
Baltimore Bullets (1947-48) – BAA
The Bullets’ BAA title in 1948 made Klotz the shortest professional basketball player to ever play on a championship team.
New York Knicks (1947-48) – BAA
The first non-white player in professional basketball history played three games for the Knicks.
Denver Nuggets (1975-77) – ABA before joining NBA in 1976
Towe (right, between 7'0" Tommy Burleson and 6'5" David Thompson at NC State) is credited for creating the “alley-oop” with David Thompson, his teammate first at NC State and later with the Nuggets.
Atlanta Hawks (1985-91)
Sacramento Kings (1991-95)
Minnesota Timberwolves (1996)
Orlando Magic (1998)
Arguably the most well-known player on this list, Webb shocked the basketball world when he won the NBA Slam Dunk Contest in 1986.
Boston Celtics (1946-47)
Hirsch’s 13 games with the Celtics made him the shortest player in NBA history until the next two people on this list came along.
New Jersey Nets (1999)
Cleveland Cavaliers (1999, 2000)
Orlando Magic (1999)
Los Angeles Clippers (2000-02)
Golden State Warriors (2002-03)
Denver Nuggets (2003-07)
Milwaukee Bucks (2007-08, ’10-11)
Charlotte Bobcats (2008)
Washington Wizards (2009-10)
Houston Rockets (2012)
Boykins is the shortest player in NBA history to score more than 30 points in a game.
Washington Bullets (1987-88)
Charlotte Hornets (1988-97)
Golden State Warriors (1997-99)
Toronto Raptors (1999-2001)
The shortest player in NBA history also is the Hornets’ all-time leader in assists and steals. He also blocked 39 shots in his career.