“I changed the perspective of the kids”: Muggsy Bogues, a 5-foot 3-inch star who broke the NBA’s norms | NBA

TThe NBA season just ended last week, but the team is already looking to the future. On Thursday night, college stars like Jabari Smith Jr. in Auburn and international outlooks like French phenom Ousmane Dieng, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver called their name and the process. Wait worried that they will change their lives forever. This is a ritual that is about as old as the NBA itself. The first draft was held 75 years ago and preceded the second season of the NBA.

And this year marks the 35th anniversary of one of the most striking picks in the long history of the NBA Draft. In 1987, Washington Brett chose Muggsy Bogues – all his 5’3 inches – the 12th pick overall.

Bullet fans had reason to doubt their team’s choice. Borgs is still the shortest NBA player in history, a fact that has caused many scouts to question their ability to survive, let alone prosper in the Borgs league. Contextually, the average height of NBA players when the Borg was drafted was 6 feet 7 inches. At 5 feet 9 inches, Isaiah Thomas, the NBA’s shortest player last season, rises 6 inches above the Borg.

The fear of the Borg was quickly dispelled. He has been playing in the league for 14 years, especially in a 10-season stretch with the Charlotte Hornets. And the draft never fails to regain the memories of the moment his name was called.

“Every year, those feelings come back again,” Borg tells the Guardian. “Draft night was a very special moment for me, for my family, for Baltimore. [Bogues’ hometown] … When I heard my name, everything was paralyzed… the weight of the world was lifted from my shoulders. “

Borg has always been a fan favorite because of his unlikely trip to the league. He was a regular starter during his career, but he was never chosen as an All-Star. But his charisma, and his success with the odds, helped him become one of the NBA’s most marketable faces in the 1990s.

“People 30 [years of age] And more than that, they may have seen my basketball, “Borgs says. He has also appeared on television shows such as Saturday Night Live and Curb Your Enthusiasm, featured in songs from A Tribe Called Quest’s influential Midnight Marauders album, and starred in memorable sprite commercials. did.

“You can’t talk about basketball without talking about Magsey Borg,” said Jacob Whitty, co-author of Magsey’s recent memoir, “Magsey: My Life from a Project Child to the Godfather of a Little Ball.” say. “He is alone.”

Muggsy Bogues:’Draft night was a very special moment for me, my family, and Baltimore. Photo: Focus on Sports / Getty Images

But the story of Borg’s victory can obscure his extraordinary ability in court. It’s a shame because the game aspect of Borg is unique. Frankly, Bogues have the safest hand to control NBA basketball.

That’s a big claim, but the evidence supports it. A statistic called the Assist / Turnover (Ast / T) ratio places the player’s ability to pass within the context of the tendency to commit a turnover. This is an incomplete statistic, but it gives a sense of the player’s ability to marshall the ball. For example, an Ast / T ratio of 2.5 represents a player with an average of 2.5 assists per commit turnover.

Borg’s Career Ast / T ratio is 4.69, which is by far the best of the NBA’s top 100 career assist leaders. Among the top 100 with Ast / T over 4.0, the only other player is Point God Chris Paul. In fact, even though the list has been expanded to include the top 200 career-assisted players, Bogues is still at the top of the Ast / T ranking. Or top 300. Or 400. Borg is proud of his record. “I’m proud to take care of basketball and I’m sure I have more opportunities to score,” he says. “As a point guard, it is your responsibility to take care of the basketball.”

Until this past season, Borg held the NBA record for most games with at least 10 assists and zero turnover. The statistics do not have nicknames like “triple-double” or “madox”. Perhaps given that Borg has dominated this category for decades, the 10-assist, zero-turnover performance should be called “Magsey.”..

Of course, statistics don’t tell a complete story. Michael Jordan’s scoring title itself does not convey the aesthetic excellence of “shots.” Fortunately, Borg’s career is filled with moments that prove his abilities. Speaking of Jordan, one of Borg’s signature plays was his defensive position against Airness himself during the 1995 playoffs. The play ended rebelliously with a misleading “illegal defense” call, but Borg stole the ball from Jordan shortly before the whistle rang. The series of events, and the “cleanliness” of the Borg strip, has become a topic of frequent debate among NBA fans. For Borg, there is no debate. “It was absolutely A clean strip, “he says. “”[Jordan] He was talking a bit of trash saying he was going to pull me down, so I told him to bring it. “

But Borg’s favorite aspect of his own career does not seem to be his statistical excellence or his highlight-worthy defense against dream team graduates. Rather, he especially likes the impact he has had on the younger generation. “That’s the coolest thing,” he says, “changing the perspective of children.”

Among those children was Stephen Curry, the NBA Finals MVP. “When you’re a kid, you’re like” okay 5 feet 3 inches. ” How long does it take for me to be able to play in the NBA after I’m 5 feet 3 inches? “Curry wrote in the introduction to Borg’s memoirs. This is the protracted impact of Borg’s career on smaller players. He offered not only role models, but also the opportunity to dream.

Discussing this year’s draft, Bogs is surprised to learn that the University of Tennessee’s outstanding Kennedy Chandler is the shortest player expected to be selected in the first round. Chandler stands in the shade 6 feet below.

“My goodness, we have to change that,” says Borgs. “You need to get 5 feet 2 inches [player] Come with me. “

Borgs has no worries about abandoning his record as the shortest player in NBA history.

“That’s how the record is made … I can’t wait. I’m delighted when that happens,” he says with a laugh. “I hope it’s in my lifetime.”

When the time comes, the player will have some huge shoes to fill.

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