Muggsy Bogues Rumors

Before anybody called me Muggsy, my family called me Apple. I used to cut my hair real low and keep a shiny head, like a shiny apple. It was a term of endearment. I didn’t really think about it much, but I liked it. But you don’t get to choose your nickname, which is why you’ve never heard of “Apple” Bogues. “Muggsy” was born when I was seven years old, on the courts of my neighborhood — the Lafayette projects of inner city Baltimore. I’ve always been the smallest guy on the court. Every age group, always the smallest. As I got older, everyone kept growing except me. Eventually I realized my parents were also pretty short, so I wasn’t going to get much taller. So from an early age, size became a motivating factor. Being short made me fearless as a player, set out to prove everyone wrong. I let everyone I guarded know they would always feel my presence. Getting up underneath them, never letting them relax. They even became fearful just to dribble, because I could be so disruptive.
At the same time, there was a very popular old show with some of the bigger kids in our neighborhood called ‘The Bowery Boys.’ They were a crew. Always had something going on, something to overcome — usually another gang they came up against. Well, one of the Bowery Boys was named Muggsy. He was the leader of the crew. I always had a crew with me, which included Darryl Wood, and Reggie Williams (everyone called him “Russ”, as long as we’re talking nicknames). Everyone used to say I was the little leader. I didn’t necessarily consider myself that, but I was definitely the most boisterous one, always suggesting we do this or that.
Anyway, one day when we’re playing, Dwayne Wood, Darryl’s older brother, came out and said I reminded him of Muggsy from “The Bowery Boys.” Everyone laughed, tying the joke together. He’s mugging everyone, stealing the ball, hanging with his boys, leading his gang … He’s Muggsy. “Muggsy” caught on right away. And at first I hated it. I thought they were talking about my mug, saying that I wasn’t an especially attractive little guy. “Muggsy” feels like somebody is talking about your looks, and I wasn’t down with all that. But I never reacted negatively to it in front of people. I couldn’t start a fight, because then it becomes even funnier to the older guys who put the nickname on me. If your mug breaks down even a little bit, that’s when they really start up. Now he’s really Muggsy because of his mug.
A lot of people think my mama actually named me Muggsy. I absolutely had NBA teammates who didn’t know my real name. I mean, why would they even research it, when everybody calls a guy something for so long, you know? People used to say, “Damn, Tyrone? That’s his name?” I know Larry Johnson didn’t know my name for a minute or two … but that didn’t matter, because he was one of the only guys who didn’t call me Muggsy, anyway. He called me “Billy,” which was my daddy’s nickname. He said that I come from my daddy, so to Larry, I was always “Billy Bogues.” Really, I think he just liked the way it sounded.