It’s easy to forget just how huge some of the guys are when enjoying the ebbs and flows of an exciting NBA game.
Especially when watching on TV.
They’re all relatively big guys and so they seem less so next to each other.
While it is obviously not mandatory, in some ways taller players have things a little easier than shorter ones when it comes to playing basketball. However, their athleticism and manoeuvrability can suffer a little as long, heavy limbs put a lot of pressure on joints.
Careers don’t always last overly long for the guys who tower above everybody else on the court.
EXTRAORDINARY SIZE COMES AT A COST…
According to a 2007-08 survey, the average height of players, in the NBA is 6’7” (2.01m)
Shooting guards are 6’5″
Small forwards are 6’7″
Power forwards are 6’9″
Centers are 6’11”
Even though height is not the only factor in determining a player’s suitability for life in the National Basketball Association, It is usually helpful.
Less distance to the rim is clearly a big factor for making shots and taking rebounds. As are ‘wingspan’ and general size when blocking shots and making a nuisance of yourself.
Some players are 7 feet and upwards. That’s so tall that it’s hard to imagine unless you can get up close and see for yourself.
JUST DON’T GET STEPPED ON BY ACCIDENT
HERE ARE THE TALLEST PLAYERS IN NBA HISTORY:
RALPH LEE SAMPSON JR. – USA
7’4″ (2.24M) 227 LB (103KG)
RLSJ represented several teams throughout his career but earned his best reputation with the Houston Rockets.
He was named College Player of the Year three times and was the first to be selected in the 1983 NBA Draft.
Ralph then went on to earn the title of NBA Rookie of the Year and was eventually inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
A dependable, leading points scorer in the NBA – injuries led to his premature retirement.
MARK EATON – USA
7’4” (2.24 M) 290 LB (132 KG)
Mark Eaton was one of the best defensive centers in the history of the NBA.
He played for Utah Jazz from 1982 to 1993 when they were one of THE teams to beat.
Twice named NBA Defensive Player of the Year (DPOY) twice during his career.
Holds the record for the most blocks in a single season (456)
Also holds the best career average blocked shots per game (3.50)
He is, perhaps understandably, known among fans as the ‘Blocked Shot master.’
Mark Eaton was also a reasonably potent offensive force and accrued 5,216 points over his entire career of 875 games.
PAVEL PODKOLZIN – RUSSIA
7’5” (2.26M) 305 LB (138KG)
Pavel only played six games for the Dallas Mavericks in his two-year NBA/ development league career.
During that time, his total point tally was just four points but his blocking was impressive. In 2004, he took 6 rebounds in just 14 minutes.
In the end, the pituitary disorder that accounts for his enormous height caused Podkolzin problems and his career was brief.
CHARLES GOODRICH ‘CHUCK’ NEVITT – USA
7’5” (2.26 M) 217 LB (98 KG)
During his long career from 1982 to 1994, Nevitt appeared for a total of 826 minutes across 155 games.
His total match time adds up to less than 18 full NBA matches.
HE IS THE TALLEST BASKETBALL PLAYER IN NBA HISTORY TO WIN A CHAMPIONSHIP
GURSIMRAN SIM BHULLAR – INDIA / CANADA
7’5” (2.26M) 359 LB (167KG)
Gursimran ‘Sim’ Bhullar is the first NBA player of Indian descent and is one of the tallest basketball players ever.
In his 2015 debut, he played a total of 16 seconds for the Sacramento Kings.
He went on to play 3 matches during his professional career in the NBA and his total court time was just ten minutes.
TACKO FALL – SENEGAL
7’5” (2.26 M) 311 LB (141 KG)
Tacko Fall made his debut for the Boston Celtics in 2019.
They picked him up after he went undrafted.
The Senegalese player has gone on to become very popular. He gets a lot of votes in the fans’ All-Star voting as he is not afraid to be aggressive and bully opponents.
He is by far the tallest player of the currently active NBA crop. Although he was welcomed with great enthusiasm, he has yet to play a large number of games.
He seldom starts and is generally brought on for a few minutes only.
Watch this space
YAO MING – CHINA
7’6” (2.29M) 310 LB (141 KG)
Yao Ming is the tallest NBA player from China ever to dunk in the NBA. His career lasted from 1997 to 2011.
In 2002 Yao Ming was drafted by the Houston Rockets where he stayed until 2011 before retiring due to various injuries.
In the 481 matches that he played over 9 years, he scored 9,196 points
Yao Ming is the tallest basketball player to:
Be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame for his performance.
Feature in at least one All-Star game.
Be included in the Hall Of Fame.
Yao averaged 19 points, nine rebounds, and almost two blocks per game across a distinguished career.
SHAWN BRADLEY (GERMANY/USA)
7’6” (2.29 M) 275 LB (125 KG)
Born and brought up in Germany, Shawn Bradley played as a center for some of the most famous teams in the NBA during his career from 1993 to 2005.
Brilliantly nicknamed ‘the enormous Mormon’ or ‘the Stormin’ Mormon’ Bradley enjoyed a long, successful career in the NBA.
In 1996 he had the most blocked shots in the league with 288.
SLAVKO VRANEŠ – SERBIA
7’6” (2.29M) 302 LB (137KG)
Born in Serbia in 1983, Slavko Vraneš is the third tallest NBA player in history.
Vraneš’ very short career in the NBA was not a particularly distinguished one.
He played a sum total of three minutes of one game during his one year in the NBA.
HE DID TAKE ONE SHOT BUT MISSED
The NBA was perhaps a step too far for the big Serbian and he didn’t stay.
MANUTE BOL – SUDAN
7’6.75” (2.30M) 200 LB (91KG)
Manute Bol is the son of a Dinka tribe elder from Sudan.
His name means ‘Special blessing’ in his native language.
At a recorded height of 7’6.75”, Bol is the second tallest player to ever step foot on the court in NBA championships.
Bol is also unique in that he is the only NBA player to have a higher number of blocks per game than points!
In his rookie season, he averaged a record 4.96 blocks per game!
Destined to always be the runner-up it seems, he finds himself second on the overall blocks list too…
Although he was an absolute master when it was time to block shots, Manute didn’t exactly have amazing skills with the ball in hand. He played for 4 different NBA teams during his career.
His son, Bol Bol is now an emerging basketball player in his own right.
GHEORGHE MURESAN – ROMÂNIA
7’7” (2.31M) – 325 LB (147KG)
The tallest NBA player ever is Gheorghe Muresan.
Also known as ‘Ghiță’, ‘Big Ghiță’, or even just ‘George’.
His height was measured at 7’7” (2.31m), although it is claimed by some sources that his actual height is 7’8” (2.34m).
Either way, he tops this list and is a literal giant. A pituitary gland disorder means that, even with parents of average height, he was destined to be so.
Muresan is the tallest living person from his country, Romania.
He is also one of the tallest athletes in all of sporting history.
His fame earned him a role in the Hollywood movie – ‘My Giant’
Gheorghe Muresan was drafted by the Washington Bullets in 1993, two years after he began his basketball career.
GHEORGHE WASN’T JUST BIG – HE HAD SKILLS TOO…
In the 1995-1996 season, he received the NBA Most Improved Player Award.
This was largely due to an average of 14.5 points (58.4% accuracy), 9.6 rebounds, and 2.26 blocks per game in the NBA.
Although he was a poor rim protector and did not block well, he was decent offensively during his 6 seasons in the NBA.
He had a relatively short career in the NBA until 2000 when a series of injuries forced his retirement before he was even 30. He did go on to play in the French league afterwards.
During his NBA career, he averaged 9.8 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 0.5 assists per game.
Worthy of mention
Robert Bobroczky – Romania
7’7″ (2.31m) (102kg)
Son of former basketball player Zsigmond Bobróczkyi, Robert appears to have taken after his father and is already incredibly tall.
He is currently playing for the SPIRE Institute and Academy. He is committed to Rochester University in Michigan.
Physically it seems that Robert would need to add significant bulk to survive the rougher side of the NBA championship but could be a dominant force if he were he to do so. He would certainly be one of the tallest NBA players ever if he makes it that far.
It’s a little hard to know how to feel about the guys that make the list for tallest players ever. It’s pretty clear that humans aren’t really designed to get that big.
It causes major problems with health and potential injury.
Having said that – what better place to take advantage of something that was beyond your control and make some serious money out of it than the NBA? These guys don’t need or want our sympathy and are worthy athletes in their own right. It’s all too easy to say that they only made it to the top because of their staggering height but isn’t it true that any professional sportsman can only reach the top if they have the necessary attributes?
Hard work and commitment are essential components of professional sport. Without them, even the most naturally gifted individuals will never succeed. But they all need the basic tools to do the job and in basketball, being very tall happens to be immensely helpful.
We’ve argued this back and forth here in The Jump Hub office and agreed to disagree on certain aspects of the subject.
What we do agree on, however, is that extreme height certainly has advantages on a basketball court. Those advantages are not preferable to the incredible athleticism and flexibility of shorter players. Just different…
If all players were the same then the game would lose some of its unpredictability and appeal. We wouldn’t want to be the height of the tallest players on this list ourselves, but we salute them and the huge (pun intended) contribution they’ve made to NBA history.