Muggsy Bogues Rumors
Muggsy Bogues — the 5-foot-3 dynamo who was, and is, the shortest player to ever play in the NBA — is among the first-time candidates for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, along with Rockets legend Tracy McGrady, and gritty Pistons star Ben Wallace. The full list of candidates eligible was unveiled Wednesday.
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.