Muggsy Bogues: Believe in yourself
by rick olivares
Tyrone Curtis “Muggsy” Bogues doesn’t look like the bantamweight linebacker in tank tops that he resembled when he played for 14 years in the NBA. He’s thinner now. Older. But when you ask if he still plays ball, his eyes, the fire in them, returns. “Are you challenging me,” he joked.
Bogues, who played for Charlotte Hornets, the Washington Bullets, Golden State Warriors, and the Toronto Raptors, is in Manila for the Jr. NBA Program where he will lead the coaching staff in conducting a three-day boot camp for players of ages 10-14 at the University of the Philippines Gym and the SM Mall of Asia.
The five-foot-three Bogues is the shortest player to ever play in the NBA. And the Baltimore, Maryland native related that it wasn’t an easy journey to from high school to college all the way to professional basketball. “If I can share anything and help someone with my experiences that’s would be good because it wasn’t an easy journey going through it especially for someone at my size,” said Bogues. “People just didn’t believe that someone my size is capable of doing things in basketball.”
“Kids can be cruel when you’re young and when they feel like you don’t fit, and when you have a deficiency. They felt the shortness was my deficiency. You always hear all the short jokes. ‘Why are you pursuing this when the game is for taller players,’ they would say. It always came out of one ear and out of the other. I always had that belief in myself.”
Despite his size, Bogues’ Paul Laurence Dunbar high school team went 60-0 in two years of play. That team featured future NBA players in Reggie Lewis, Reggie Williams, David Wingate, and Bogues. He also went on to have a stellar career with Wake Forest.
However, in what Bogues calls his proudest and most memorable moment was when he was selected in the first round and the 12th overall pick by the Washington Bullets in the 1987 NBA Draft. He was not only selected by his hometown team but he also had the last laugh on his critics who said he could never make it or even last by playing 14 long and fruitful years.
“The one moment that stands out was the day I was drafted,” he proudly reiterated. “That was when history was able to take place. That a guy my size could get drafted in the first round when people didn’t think I get drafted. That moment was surreal. It changed my family’s financial situation. It’s a proud moment.”
That draft was one of the deepest NBA drafts ever as it featured David Robinson, Scottie Pippen, Kenny Smith, Kevin Johnson, Horace Grant, Reggie Miller, Mark Jackson, Olden Polynice, and Bogues to name a few.
“It was one of the deepest drafts that ever took place,” recalled Bogues. “Ten or more played more than a decade. It was an unbelievable moment. The world was just lifted off my shoulders as all the naysayers got to watch me get my hat from David Stern.”
His 14 years in the NBA went by quickly. “Time goes real fast when you’re having fun,” said Bogues who also appeared in the film, Space Jam, with Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Larry Johnson, and Patrick Ewing.
In his career, Bogues averaged 7.7 points, 2.6 rebounds, 7.6 assists, and 1.5 steals in 889 matches.
When he doesn’t serve as a NBA Ambassador, Bogues coaches the United Faith Christian Academy boys’ high school basketball team in Charlotte, North Carolina. He once coached the Charlotte Sting in the WNBA but one of the last things he needs to check off his bucket list is to coach in the NBA. “That would complete my circle but not quite.”
“I am still waiting for that 5’2” guy to come into the NBA.”