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Dallas Mavericks center Shawn Bradley. (Photo by Matthias B. Krause/Icon SMI)
April 7th, 2021
You don’t have to be tall to succeed in the NBA, but it certainly helps. Four of the first five NBA Championships were won by George Mikan, the first dominant big man in league history, and centers captured 22 of the NBA’s first 28 MVP awards. The reason is simple: Being tall allows players to see over defenses, grab easy rebounds, and swat shots into the sixth row.
Although most offenses are now built around guards, towering players are still among the league brightest stars. As recently as February, nine of the 27 players named to the NBA All-Star Game were 6’10” or taller.
If you're looking for a tall tale, you've come to the right place. Join us now as we rank the 10 tallest players in NBA history.
Height: 7’7”Teams: Washington Bullets, New Jersey NetsYears Active: 1994-2000
Gheorghe Muresan was more than just a novelty act. The rangy Romanian was a legit baller who led the NBA in field goal percentage and two-point field goal percentage in back-to-back seasons, and was named the league’s Most Improved Player in 1996 after averaging 14.5 points, 9.6 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks per game for the Washington Bullets. Unfortunately, a debilitating back injury cut his career short, forcing him to hang up his size 19 Nikes after just six seasons and 307 games.
Height: 7’7”Teams: Washington Bullets, Golden State Warriors, Philadelphia 76ers, Miami HeatYears Active: 1986-1995
Official publications disagree on whether Manute Bol was 7’7” or 7’6”, but we do know for sure is "The Dinka Dunker" was one hell of a shot blocker. Bol led the league in swats in 1986 and 1989, and ranked in the top 10 in blocked shots seven times during his 10-year run. The Sudanese pivot added a three-point shot to his arsenal later in his career, and once hit six treys in a particularly memorable game against the Phoenix Suns.
"I don't believe this." 27 years ago today, 7'7" Manute Bol surprised the Suns by hitting six 3-pointers in a half 🔥 pic.twitter.com/X1vAKL4Uo9— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 3, 2020
"I don't believe this." 27 years ago today, 7'7" Manute Bol surprised the Suns by hitting six 3-pointers in a half 🔥 pic.twitter.com/X1vAKL4Uo9
Height: 7’6”Team: Portland Trail BlazersYears Active: 2004
Don’t be ashamed if you haven’t heard of Slavko Vranes. The 7’6” Montenegrin pivot was drafted by the New York Knicks with the 39th pick in the 2003 NBA Draft, and was later traded to the Portland Trail Blazers, with whom he played exactly three minutes. Although he failed to make much of an impression in the U.S., Vranes enjoyed a long and prosperous career overseas, where he became a Eurocup champion and three-time Serbian Cup winner.
Height: 7’6”Teams: Philadelphia 76ers, New Jersey Nets, Dallas MavericksYears Active: 1994-2005
Things really are bigger in Texas, or at least they were from 1997 to 2005, when Shawn Bradley manned the middle for the Mavs. "The Stormin’ Mormon" led the NBA in blocks during his first season in Dallas, and ranked in the top five in swats seven times. Bradley’s red-thin frame prevented him from being a dominant force in the pros, but his tremendous height and affable personality led to roles in blockbuster films like Space Jam and TV series like Walker, Texas Ranger.
Before Zion Williamson there was Shawn Bradley.🏀💪😏😊 pic.twitter.com/oybkEmigws— Rex Chapman🏇🏼 (@RexChapman) March 6, 2019
Before Zion Williamson there was Shawn Bradley.🏀💪😏😊 pic.twitter.com/oybkEmigws
Height: 7’6”Team: Houston RocketsYears Active: 2003-2011
Easily the most decorated player on our list, Ming was an eight-time All-Star and five-time All-NBA selection who overwhelmed opponents with his size and his skill. The Shanghai native averaged 19.0 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks per game over eight seasons before retiring at age 30 due to a succession of debilitating foot injuries.
Height: 7’5”Teams: Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers, Detroit Pistons, Chicago Bulls, San Antonio SpursYears Active: 1983-1994
Labeling the 7’5” Nevitt a basketball player would be doing him a disservice. The towering NC State alum was a fascinating polymath who also dabbled in juggling, carpentry, and male stripping when he wasn’t taking up space on the benches of NBA teams.
Height: 7’5”Team: Sacramento KingsYears Active: 2015
It doesn’t take long to browse Sim Bhullar’s stats. The 7’5” Canadian scored just two points in three games with the Sacramento Kings in 2014-15. Although he couldn’t hack it in the NBA, "Sim City" did become a star in Taiwan’s Super Basketball League, where the hard-working giant guided the Dacin Tigers to a title in 2017.
Sim Bhullar is the poor poor poor man's Shaq and I will never get tired of watching ENORMOUS humans play against smaller humans pic.twitter.com/JSRIiqriSt— YP (@YoungPageviews) March 9, 2018
Sim Bhullar is the poor poor poor man's Shaq and I will never get tired of watching ENORMOUS humans play against smaller humans pic.twitter.com/JSRIiqriSt
Height: 7’5”Team: Dallas MavericksYears Active: 2005-2006
Some people collect stamps or trading cards. The Mavericks collect gangly seven-footers. Example No. 357 is Pavel Podklzin, a 7’5” Russian center who appeared in six games with Dallas over two seasons. Podklzin has since played for a number of European teams whose names you couldn’t pronounce even if you were given three chances.
Height: 7’5”Teams: Boston CelticsYears Active: 2020-present
Imagine being able to dunk without even jumping. That’s one of the many superpowers possessed by Tacko Fall, the 7’5” Celtics center who has an 8’2” wingspan and a 10’2” standing reach. Unfortunately Fall’s NBA numbers are a little less impressive, as the Senegalese center has averaged just 3.1 points and 2.4 rebounds per game during his two seasons in Boston.
TACKO FALL !!! pic.twitter.com/njvgsEBYfK— TrashTalk (@TrashTalk_fr) January 9, 2021
TACKO FALL !!! pic.twitter.com/njvgsEBYfK
Height: 7’4”Teams: San Antonio Spurs, Detroit Pistons, Los Angeles Clippers, Philadelphia 76ers, Dallas MavericksYears Active: 2016-present
You can be forgiven for being underwhelmed by Boban Marjanovic’s career stats. After all, the Serbian center has never averaged more than 7.3 points per game. Dig a little deeper, however, and his per 36-minutes stats tell a very different story. Since his rookie season, the 7’4” behemoth has averaged 22.8 points, 15.1 rebounds, 2.0 assists, and 1.3 steals per 36-minutes. That’s better than virtually every starting center in the NBA, and it speaks volumes about his ability to dominate the game for those rare occasions when he’s on the court.
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