Who is the shortest person to ever dunk in the NBA game?

Who is the shortest person to ever dunk in the NBA game?

Kenneth Mwenda
updated at April 12, 2023 at 8:18 PM

"Who is the shortest NBA player to ever dunk?" Since basketball is typically a game involving height, many fans are still curious about this solution. Several short players have shown up to defy the odds of height and excel in the game.

Who is the shortest person to ever dunk in the NBA?
Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers dunks the ball against the Cleveland Cavaliers on November 30, 2022 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland, Ohio. Photo: Lauren Bacho
Source: Getty Images

Basketball players can perform a dunk, also known as a slam dunk, by leaping into the air, controlling the ball above the rim's horizontal plane, and shoving it into the hoop with one or both hands to score. Even though some players are shorter than the height mentioned earlier, some have emerged as one of the NBA's most notable dunkers.

The numbers behind the dunk

No matter the height, one must always do the necessary calculations for a flawless slam because basketball is a game of height. One hundred twenty inches, or ten feet, is the height of a standard basketball hoop. According to a report from 2020, NBA players are 6'6" on average, making it easy for them to dunk.

A basketballer six feet six inches tall must have 42 inches between the top of their head and the rim if the hoop is 120 inches off the ground. Because of their arm length, players need a vertical leap of between 25 and 32 inches to slam the ball down. This makes it challenging for players under 6 feet to dunk, yet several players have defied the odds and pulled off the feat while standing under 6 feet.

Top shortest players to ever dunk in the history of the NBA

The shortest person to ever dunk
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope of the Denver Nuggets dunks against the Atlanta Hawks during the second half at State Farm Arena on December 02, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo: Kevin C. Cox
Source: Getty Images

The slam dunk is typically a field goal worth two points and typically with the highest percentage. NBA has a long history of legendary prototypes that have dominated the field and left an enduring impression. All of these players are tall.

As previously said, it is tough for a player under 6 feet to dunk. However, a few NBA players have shown that this is a myth and that no player is too short to do it. Because of their commitment and efforts in the game, these short players are referred to as the legends of the game.

10. Nate Robinson (5ft 9 inches)

The shortest man to dunk ever
Nate Robinson of the New York Knicks dunks during the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest on All-Star Saturday Night at American Airlines Center on February 13, 2010 in Dallas, Texas. Photo: Garrett Ellwood
Source: Getty Images

Nate Robinson is an athletic beast who, in 2010, became the first three-time slam dunk winner. The top dog had a football scholarship to college and was a standout in high school track and field. However, he decided on basketball, which significantly impacted his career.

Robinson received both All-Pac-10 Team Honours and a spot on the Pac-10 All-Freshman Team. The Phoenix Suns chose him, but he later transferred to the New York Knicks on draft night. He won three slam dunk championships while playing for the Knicks and remained with the same franchise until the year 2010 when he switched to become a proficient NBA player.

The highlight is his slam over a 6' 10" man. Dwight Howard won the 2009 Dunk Contest by dressing as "Kryptonate." He also showed his incredible 43-inch vertical jump in 2006 when he blocked Yao Ming, who is almost 2 feet taller.

9. Calvin Murphy ( 5ft 9inches)

The shortest person to ever slam dunk
Close up of Calvin Murphy, basketball player for the Houston Rockets on January 01, 1974. Photo: Bettmann
Source: Getty Images

Former American basketball player Calvin Jerome Murphy, also known as Calvin Murphy, competed for the San Diego and Houston Rockets in the National Basketball Association. Calvin is regarded as one of the astounding shortest players to dunk in NBA history, despite his standing height. Calvin is a point guard in the NBA and consistently challenges his rivals with incredible jumps and moves.

Calvin was selected by the San Diego rockets with the 18th overall choice in round two of the NBA draft in 1970, and the team's management hailed him as an NBA All-Star in 1979. In 1971, he was also named to the NBA All-Rookie First Team.

8. Kay Felder (5ft 9inches)

Can a short person dunk?
Kay Felder drives the ball during Chinese Basketball Association League match between Zhejiang Lions and Shanxi Loongs on October 22, 2022 in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province of China. Photo: VCG
Source: Getty Images

One of the shortest NBA players to dunk is Kay Felder, a basketball player from the United States. Thanks to his quick and spirited play, Kay is a tough point guard and challenging to stop in every game. With the 54th overall choice in the NBA draft in 2016, the Atlanta Hawks chose Kay in the second round.

Felder has currently participated in eight different organizations. In 2016, the Associated Press, the NABC, and Sporting News recognized him as a Third-team All-American.

7. Charlie Criss (5ft 8inches)

Short people to ever dunk
Nate Archibald of the Boston Celtics against Charlie Criss of the Atlanta Hawks during a game played in 1981 at the Boston Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. Photo: Dickson Raphael
Source: Getty Images

Former American basketball point guard Charlie Criss, Charles Washington Criss Jr. Criss, was a game-changer because of his outstanding play and diminutive stature. He was the tiniest player ever to dunk.

When Criss initially entered the NBA, he was the shortest player there. During his NBA career, he played for four different clubs.

6. Keith Jennings (5ft 7inches)

How tall is the shortest person to ever dunk?
Keith Jennings (L) tries to outflank Limoges defender Oscar Yebra during the basketball match on the 19th day of the French Pro A basketball championship, on December 22. Photo: Valery HACHE
Source: Getty Images

Former American National Basketball Association player Keith Russell "Mister" Jennings, also known as Keith Jennings, now pursues his love of basketball as a coach. He became part of the Golden State Warriors for three straight seasons after initially going undrafted.

He participated in several leagues throughout his career, including the NBA, and is regarded as one of the shortest persons to dunk. Keith spent his career competing for nine different organizations. He began his coaching career in 2004 and is currently the women's college basketball head coach at Lees-McRae.

5. Greg Grant (5ft 7inches)

The shortest to ever dunk in an NBA
Greg Grant of the Phoenix Suns looks to pass during a game against the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1989-1990 NBA season at the Great Western Forum in Inglewood, California. Photo: Mike Powell
Source: Getty Images

The shortest person to ever dunk is retired basketball player Greg Grant. The authority permitted Greg to enroll in The College of New Jersey in 1986 because of his exceptional talent and capacity for leaping. The Phoenix Suns chose him as the 52nd overall choice in the 1989 NBA Draft.

He also played for sixteen teams and received the CBA assists leader award in 1995. Grant had a successful career before going on to have a successful career as a coach.

4. Spud Webb (5ft 7inches)

The shortest person to ever dunk in NBA
Spud Webb of the Sacramento Kings dribbles during a game played on February 15, 1994 at the Arena in Oakland in Oakland, California. Photo: Chris Covatta
Source: Getty Images

Spud is the fourth-shortest dunk champion in NBA history. He defeated Dominique Wilkins, a member of his squad, to win the NBA small dunk competition in 1986. Spud is among the best players the NBA has ever had, thanks to his incredible leaping ability and preparation.

Because of his commitment and talent, he became well-liked among the fans. Spud competed for seven different teams in his NBA career and set a record with a 42-inch vertical leap.

Webb is presently the third-shortest athlete ever contested in the NBA league and was the shortest participant in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest. He is one of the greatest NBA participants because of his lightning-quick attack speed.

3. Mel Hirsch (5ft 6inches)

Mel Hirsch did not play for the NBA for very long. Hirsch played for the Boston Celtics during the BAA's early years in the mid-forties. He only participated in a few games, so it is reasonable to say he did not accomplish anything particularly remarkable during that time.

Hirsch was considered a good athlete despite his diminutive stature, yet it is essential to note that basketball was a very different sport back then. Basketball fans will remember Mel as one of the shortest men in the history of the NBA because a little bit is enough.

2. Earl Boykins (5ft 5inches)

List of shortest players to ever dunk in the NBA
Earl Boykins of La Fortezza competes with Henry Domercant of Monte dei Paschi on February 22, 2009 in Bologna, Italy. Photo: Roberto Serra
Source: Getty Images

The second-shortest NBA dunker ever is Earl Antoine Boykins, better known as Earl Boykins. Boykins, a former NBA player from the United States, played for several elite teams before retiring in 2012.

Despite being short, he could compete fiercely with his opponent, thanks to his outstanding jumping abilities and practice. Boykins participated in nearly 650 NBA games for some of the top teams in the league, and his career statistics were solid. Pistons Earl became the shortest athlete to accomplish this feat in NBA history after scoring 30 points in a game for Detroit.

1. Tyrone "Muggsy" Bogues ( 5ft 3inches)

Who is the shortest person to ever dunk in the NBA?
Doc Rivers of the Atlanta Hawks and Muggsy Bogues of the Washington Bullets during an NBA basketball game circa 1987 at the Capital in Landover, Maryland. Photo: Focus on Sport
Source: Getty Images

Muggsy Bogues, sometimes known as Tyrone Curtis Bogues, is the NBA's shortest player to slam dunk. He played for four different clubs throughout his 889-game NBA career, consistently outperformed everyone on the grandest stage, and earned the distinction of being the shortest athlete in the league.

He was successful in recording approximately 150 double-doubles during his career. Because of his incredible efforts and expertise in the game, he also received numerous accolades. He is known as one of the shortest people to dunk in the world.

Therefore, it is evident that even the shortest player in the NBA can overcome all difficulties and emerge as one of the league's top dunkers. Even though they were less than the minimum height requirement to dunk, several have defied the dictum and thrived in the game.

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Kenneth Mwenda photo
Kenneth Mwenda
Kenneth Mwenda is a business and sports writer with over five years of experience. At Sportsbrief, he contributes to writing biographies and listicles.