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Henry Liao

A Tall Man's Game

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Height is might in basketball, a game best served to tall men and women.

Since Canadian physical education instructor Dr. James Naismith invented the game in mid-December 1891 in Springfield, Massachusetts to keep young students in good physical shape during the cold months (winter) in the United States, international basketball has been dominated by athletes standing 6 feet and four inches on the average and as tall as 7-7.

A survey conducted on all of the 449 players listed on the opening-day rosters of the 30 member teams in the National Basketball Association during its 2016-17 season showed an average height of 6-7 and an average weight of 221.4 pounds.

The average NBA guy: Klay Thompson of the NBA champion Golden State Warriors who was listed at 6-7 and 215 pounds.

The league?s tallest players were 7-3 Boban Marjanovic (Detroit), 7-3 Kristaps Porzingis (New York), 7-3 Edy Tavares (Atlanta), 7-2 Alexis Ajinca (New Orleans) and 7-2 Roy Hibbert (Charlotte).

In the NBA?s 71-year history (the 72nd renewal will unwrap on October 17, or eight days earlier than a year ago), the tallest player ever was Romania?s 7-7 Gheorghe Muresan (1993-97 Washington Bullets/1998-2000 New Jersey Nets).

Next was the late Manute Bol (1985-88 Washington Bullets/1988-90 Golden State Warriors/1990-93 Philadelphia 76ers/1994 Miami Heat). A native of Sudan, Bol was officially measured and listed at 7-6.75 tall by the Guinness Book of World Records.

At 7-6 were Shawn Bradley (1993-95 Philadelphia 76ers/1995-97 New Jersey Nets/Dallas 1997-2005 Dallas Mavericks), who was born to American parents in the former West Germany; Chinese icon Yao Ming (2002-11 Houston Rockets), the tallest player ever to suit up in an NBA All-Star Game and the tallest player ever to be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

At 7-5 were Sim Bhullar (April 2015 Sacramento Kings), a Canadian who was born in Toronto, Ontario and is the first NBA player of Indian descent); Chuck Nevitt (1982-1983, 1988-90 Houston Rockets/1984-85 Los Angeles Lakers/1985-88 Detroit Pistons/1991 Chicago Bulls/1993 San Antonio Spurs); Russian Pavel Podkolzin (2004-06 Dallas Mavericks); and Montenegrin Slavko Vranes (January 2004 Portland; he is said to have grown to 7-6 after his one-game NBA stint).

It?s a tall story all right but like a 1977 song from American musician-composer Randy Newman, ?Short People? also have their day in the sun, even in the basketball scene.

You can be six feet tall and yet be considered a ?small? player in a sport lorded over by hefty giants.

Undersized Hoopsters like us do not stand a chance against a Gregory Slaughter, a 7-foot American-Filipino born in Cleveland, Ohio who played collegiately at the University of the Visayas in Cebu (the hometown of his mother) and later with the Ateneo de Manila University, or a June Mar Fajardo, a 6-11 mastodon from Cebu who is the best player in the local professional league today.

Then again, there have been local or international competitions in the past for players below six feet.

Among them was this international basketball tournament half-a-century ago where there was a leveled playing field.

In 1967, the first Intercontinental basketball tournament was staged in Barcelona, Spain for players 5-11 or under.

The Philippines finished third behind world powerhouse United States and host Spain.

The Filipinos, who represented the Asian zone, were bannered by Edgardo Ocampo, Freddie Webb, Guillermo Manotoc, Joaquin Rojas Jr., Ernesto Morales, Danilo Florencio and Narciso Bernardo.

Our boys defeated Brazil, the South American representative, and France, the European representative.
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