These are the Top 10 Tallest NBA Players in History

Pop culture
Topps NBA Rulers Insert 1969-70

Topps NBA Rulers Insert

Who are the top 10 tallest basketball players in history? Basketball players are known for being notoriously tall, but these are the giants of the NBA — literally, and often figuratively, too.

The Topps Company, known best for their baseball cards, gum, and various candies, came up short on their first few NBA product launches. The first packs debuted in 1957, but the company decided not to print the following year.

In its triumphant return during the 1969-70 season, Topps’ design and marketing execs cooked up the infamous “ruler insert” chase card. In order to fit in the packs, these vibrant color, cartoon caricatures of the NBA’s biggest stars, had to be folded three times.

The hook was that the ruler insert highlighted the height of each player. Of the 23 cards in the set, rookie Lew Alcindor, known today as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, was the tallest, measuring 7-feet, 1 ½-inches tall. Fast forward to 2021, and Abdul-Jabbar doesn’t rank inside the top 10 tallest NBA players in history.

If you’re interested in NBA betting online, a fun piece of basketball trivia to wager on is “Which NBA draft class featured two of the top 10 tallest players in league history?” The answer: the 1993 NBA draft when the Philadelphia 76ers picked Shawn Bradley second and the Washington Bullets picked up Euro-sensation, Gheorghe Muresan, 30th.

Gheorghe Muresan Billy Crystal My Giant

Comedian and Actor Billy Crystal in Beverly Hills, California on Thursday, March 26, 1998. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Who’s the Tallest Player in NBA History?

Meet Gheorghe Muresan, NBA’s Tallet

At 7-feet-7 inches, Romania’s Gheorghe Muresan is the tallest player in NBA history. He played in 307 games for the Washington Bullets and New Jersey Nets and averaged 9.8 points and 6.4 rebounds per game when he retired.

In pop culture circles, he appeared in Eminem’s “My Name Is” music video and co-starred alongside Billy Crystal in the movie “My Giant.”

Muresan also has a son named George who played basketball at Georgetown, which is just fantastic for a number of reasons.

Manute Bol

We have conflicting reports on Bol’s true height. Some sources have him listed at 7-feet-7 inches, while some believe he was actually 7-feet-6 3/4-inches and, thus, shorter than Muresan, and rail-thin at just 200 pounds. Regardless, the Sudanese center was drafted by the Washington Bullets 31st overall in the 1985 NBA Draft. In 624 career games, Bol averaged just 2.6 points and 4.2 rebounds per game but was an elite shot-blocker at 3.3 rejections per game.

One of Bol’s 10 children, aptly named Bol Bol, was drafted by the Miami Heat in 2019 before being traded to the Denver Nuggets where he remains on their active roster.

Tacko Fall

Tacko Fall became a YouTube sensation while in high school.

After playing four years at the University of Central Florida, the 7-foot-6-inch center was undrafted, but wound up signing a two-way deal with the Boston Celtics and splitting time between their G-League affiliate in Maine and earning mop-up minutes with the Celtics. He’s currently signed to a two-way contract by the Cleveland Cavaliers. He’s appeared in seven games during the 2021-22 NBA season.

Shawn Bradley

After he was drafted out of Brigham Young in 1993, the 76ers training staff placed the 7-foot-6-inch Bradley — who then weighed just 245 pounds — on a 7,000-calorie per day diet. Despite gorging himself, the big man was never able to gain the needed weight required to bang in the paint with the likes of Shaquille O’Neal and David Robinson.

Banking on the “you can’t teach height” mantra of many NBA scouts, Bradley bounced around the league for 14 seasons before hanging them up in 2005. He played in 832 games and averaged 8.1 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. It’s estimated that he earned nearly $70-million during his NBA career.

In January of 2020, Bradley was struck by a car while riding his bicycle. The accident left Bradley paralyzed.

Yao Ming

An 8x All-Star, 5x All-NBA, and Basketball Hall of Famer, the 7-foot-6-inch Ming is the greatest NBA talent to come out of China. A rookie during the 2002-2003 season, Ming’s incredible career was somewhat overshadowed by LeBron James entering the league the following season. Playing nearly 500 games, all for the Houston Rockets, Ming averaged 19.0 points and 9.2 rebounds per game.

Still only 41 years old, he’s currently the chairman of the Chinese Basketball Association.

Mark Eaton

One of my favorite NBA highlights of all time is the 7-foot-4-inch Eaton blocking Rex Chapman at the goal without jumping. It truly captures the “you can’t teach height” of the 1980’s NBA era.

Eaton’s development as a basketball big man was limited dating back to when he was a 6-foot-11-inch senior at Westminster High School in California. The coaching staff didn’t know how to grow his game and thus he graduated and ended up working on cars before enrolling in a junior college, picking basketball back up, and then transferring to UCLA where he saw little-to-no playing time under two different head coaches.

Despite the lack of playing time his junior and senior seasons, and being a 26-year-old rookie, the Utah Jazz selected him in the fourth round of the 1982 NBA Draft. He played 11 seasons, won Defensive Player of the Year twice, led the league in blocks four times and earned a spot on the 1989 NBA All-Star team.

Eaton died unexpectedly in 2021 of an apparent heart attack while riding his bike.

Rik Smits

“The Dunking Dutchman,” Smits was drafted second overall by the Pacers during the 1988 NBA Draft. The 7-foot-4 center played all 12 seasons in Indiana and earned All-Rookie honors in 1989 and an All-Star bid in 1998.

Ralph Sampson

Mr. Sampson won college basketball’s National Player of the Year Award three times before the Houston Rockets selected him first overall in the 1983 NBA Draft. At 7-foot-4-inches, Sampson was a game-changer and won NBA Rookie of the Year honors after averaging 21 points, 11 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game. He was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame in 2012.

Boban Marjanović

At 7-feet-3-inches and nearly 300 pounds, Boban is truly a gentle giant on the court. He’s played for five teams since joining the NBA back in 2015, but has embraced his role & player identity and parlayed it into some endorsement deals co-starring alongside his teammates.

Zydrunas Ilgauskas

One of LeBron James’ favorite teammates of all-time, Big Z’s NBA career got off to a rocky start as his 7-foot-3-inch frame punished his feet, which required surgeries and rehab. He missed two of his first four NBA seasons due to injury and only played in five games of a third. However, he bounced back to play 11 more seasons until the age of 35 and finished with 13 points, 7 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game average.

Which NBA player was short but very successful?

Earl Boykins

Not as well-known as Webb or Bogues, Boykins went undrafted out of Eastern Michigan and never truly became a household name. However, at 5-feet-5-inches, he’s the second shortest player in NBA history and still managed to crank out 16 NBA seasons and one professional campaign in Europe.

Spud Webb

Michael “Spud” Webb was drafted out of North Carolina State by the Detroit Pistons in the 1985 NBA Draft. At 5-feet-6-inches, he’s best known for winning the Slam Dunk Contest during the 1986 All-Star Weekend in Dallas.

Muggsy Bogues

After 5-feet-3-inches, Tyrone “Muggsy” Bogues is the shortest player in NBA history. Though vertically challenged, the long-time Charlotte Hornets point guard played 14 NBA seasons. After retiring, he went on to coach the WNBA’s Charlotte Sting for a minute. Finding a Bogues’ white Hornets jersey with the pinstripes was the height of fashion back in the 1990s.

Who is the best dunker in basketball history?

While Michael Jordan’s jam from the free-throw line is an all-time great moment from the richest NBA player of all-time, the best dunker in basketball history has to be Vince Carter because, well, the “Dunk of Death” in the 2000 Summer Olympics.

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