Bogues, a star of the US team which won the FIBA World Championship in 1986 beating Russia, played for Washington Bullets, Charlotte Hornets, Golden State Warriors and Toronto Raptors in the NBA.

When you are just 5’3”, you don’t think of taking basketball as a full-time career.

But Tyrone Curtis ‘Muggsy’ Bogues dreamt of bigger things. He wanted to become an NBA player. And he did, sparkling on the big stage for 15 seasons between 1987 and 2001.

The American did not think his lack of height was a disadvantage.

“In fact, I thought of it as an advantage,” said Bogues, the shortest player ever in the NBA, in a chat at the Sacred Heart CMI School here on Thursday. “No one knows, how big your potential is, how big your heart is, when you start dreaming, you start winning.”

It is this dream which he is now offering to young boys and girls in India — who are not giants — as he did during the Reliance Foundation-Junior NBA clinic here.

“I’ll tell you, real soon, we’re going to have an Indian player, in the WNBA as well as the NBA. You got one player who came close to making it in the WNBA tryout (Geethu Anna Jose),” he said. “And you’ve got another boy who is shaping up very well.”

Bogues was an all-rounder of sorts as a youngster and the tough life around him in Baltimore made him work harder.

Wrestling was main sport

“I played all sports when I was young. I was into wrestling, basketball, baseball, football and I ran track. But wrestling was my main sport because there was no criterion height-wise,” said the 49-year-old.

“I was wrestling all the way to high school but it kind of came in the same season as basketball so I had to pick and choose one and I decided to go all the way with basketball.”

Bogues was inspired by his sister, who was just 5’1”, to take up the hoop game. “When I saw her play basketball, it kind of made me think like, ‘I somehow got to do it too’.”

And when he played, the point guard became one of the best in the business. Nobody could monkey around with him on court.

“Each level I played, I did very well. At the high school level, we were the No. 1 school in the nation. At Dunbar (High School), we had four guys who were able to go and play in the NBA…myself, Reggie Lewis, David Wingate and Reggie Williams.”

Duel with Magic

He remembers his first NBA game clearly.

“My very first NBA game was against the Los Angeles Lakers, it was a pre-season game against Magic Johnson,” said Bogues. “I had butterflies then. I saw Magic and everyone knew that he was a good player. But I said, doesn’t matter. I was nervous but when he put his foot on the ground, I took it from him and he was kind of shocked. That was the kind of start I had.”

Bogues, a star of the US team which won the FIBA World Championship in 1986 beating Russia in the final, played for Washington Bullets, Charlotte Hornets, Golden State Warriors and Toronto Raptors in the NBA. In one interesting season in 1987-88, Bogues had the tallest, the 7’7” giant Manute Bol of Sudan, as his teammate.

Bogues was such a pest in defence that opponents felt that he was mugging them and that’s how he earned his nickname ‘Muggsy’.

Clearly, Bogues was one player every team worried about during his NBA days.

“Nobody likes playing a guy like that,” said former New Jersey Nets point guard Maurice Cheeks once. “He’s so active, always going around you like a mosquito. There are a lot of guys you can relax against but you’d better not relax on Muggsy or you’ll be in trouble.”

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