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Muggsy the legend: How one man defied the odds


A look at an NBA original

The basketball league has gone through several changes since its inception in 1946. One thing that never changed was the want and need for the best athletes on the court at all times. This led to teams scouting and drafting the best athletes, hoping they could mold them into superstars and the once-in-a-generation talent they envisioned. As time went on and athletes evolved, the standard also had to change, as with every draft, there was a new “ Unicorn” that would dazzle in the eyes of owners and coaches alike. Soon, being the best of the best wasn’t enough to succeed in the league.

This ever-changing standard soon hit the high school level with scouts in the NBA and college ranks scouring across the globe looking for the next phenomenon, often only paying attention to the best of the best and disregarding the rest. One player was immediately disqualified from receiving the love his talent deserved because he didn’t meet the height requirements. People assume NBA players must be tall to succeed and even wrote-off his college career before his high school career ended.

Tyrone “Muggsy” Bogues, a Baltimore native, was born in 1965 and lived most of his life in the Lafayette public housing projects. Bogues immediately fell in love with basketball, using an open-bottomed milk crate hanging off a fence to practice slam dunks. Bogues dreamed of being a star, but one of his biggest hurdles showed up early in his life as his height capped at 5 foot, three inches. This didn’t deter Bogus from his dreams, as he spent most of his time at the local recreation center honing his skills during his childhood and teenage years.

The hard work paid off as Bogues started playing high school basketball and earned his nickname Muggsy for his physical and dominating style of play. That style of play helped Bogues lead Dunbar High School to be the No.1 team in the nation, which caught scouts’ attention, but many still doubted his talent. “People still didn’t believe: ‘Well, he played in high school, he had success in high school, but it’s a whole other world when you get to college,” Bogus said as he described some of the doubts scouts were having about him. Bogues eventually received a full scholarship to Wake Forest College in North Carolina.

Bogus struggled the first two years of college, and it took a coaching change for him to get his chance to shine in his junior year. Bogues averaged 11.6 points during the 22-game season. He led the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) in steals. He also ranked among the top ten players nationally for assists. He set an ACC record for assists with 17 in one game. His senior season was a repeat of that success as he set an all-school record for assists with 579. He was named to the all-ACC team and led the team in scoring.

Bogues entered the draft, and even with all his accolades, scouts still questioned if he could transition to the next level as a 5 foot, three inch guard, but he was drafted in the first round. “It felt like the whole world was lifted off your shoulders,” Bogues says. “You felt like, ‘I have arrived.” Bogues was initially drafted by The Washington Bullets in the 1987 draft but was redrafted by the newly added Charlotte Hornets in the 1988 expansion draft.

“All the naysayers, the people saying that you’ll never play. Why are you even thinking about it? A guy my size wanting to pursue a game that was supposed to be meant for the big guys,” Bogues says. “That was a special, special moment.”

After Bogus retired from the league after ten years, he started his foundation that gives back by providing basketball camps and training to the youth of Charlotte’s communities.