Top 10 Tallest Basketball Players in the World

Check out the world’s tallest NBA basketball players, from legends like Yao Ming to lesser-known giants.

Basketball players have always benefited from being taller. The NBA, the most well-known and fiercely competitive professional basketball league in the world, is home to some of the tallest basketball players.

The top ten tallest NBA basketball players are listed below. While some have become well-known throughout the world, others are rarely recognized at all. While some barely played, others had lengthy, successful careers. In a time when LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, and Kevin Durant—none of whom are particularly tall—dominated the game, let’s examine the careers, playing philosophies, and other elements that contributed to the distinction between these players as great players and others as background characters.

10. Ralph Sampson

Ralph Sampson is the tallest player to have received a Hall of Fame nomination. He won three times as the best college player in history. The Houston Rockets selected him as the number one choice in the 1983 NBA Draft. After a great rookie campaign with the Rockets, where he was named to the All-Star roster and won Rookie of the Year, he had a lot of expectations.

Even Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain were being compared to him by the media (as if anyone could achieve Chamberlain’s legendary reputation!). After the Rockets acquired Hakeem Olajuwon, he appeared poised to realise his full potential. They gained the nickname “Twin Towers” as they continued to wreak havoc on their rivals.

Sampson began to sustain ailments following the 1986 campaign, in which they were defeated by the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals. He was traded to the Golden State Warriors as a result of his deteriorating relationship with Rockets coach Bill Fitch. But things became worse with his back and knee injuries. Before being sent to Sacramento, he spent four less-than-stellar seasons as a member of the organisation. People were forced to ponder what might have been when Sampson’s career ended on a depressing note and he was never able to recapture his previous brilliance.

9. Rik Smits

Rik Smits went by the nickname “The Dunkin’ Dutchman.” The Indiana Pacers selected him with the second overall pick in the 1988 NBA Draft. From 1988 until 2000, he appeared in 12 seasons of the show. Through a happy coincidence, Smits, Steve Stipanovich’s backup, became their starting centre when Stipanovich was forced to stop his career due to a catastrophic knee injury.

For Smits, who was named to the 1983–84 All-Rookie first team, this was more than plenty. Smits continued his excellent start to the season by scoring double digits in each of his subsequent seasons. Due to his steady play and leadership qualities on the court, Smits gained a great deal of fan support and was selected for the 1998 NBA All-Star team.

When Smits was a teenager, wearing tight shoes caused nerve damage. As his foot issues grew worse every year, he eventually had to retire in 1999–2000 after Indiana fell to the Los Angeles Lakers 4 games to 2 in the NBA Finals. The fans chose the Pacers’ 40th Anniversary Team, which included Rik Smits. With the fewest votes in the end, he was only surpassed by Reggie Miller, Mel Daniels, and Jermaine O’Neal.

8. Mark Eaton

Mark Eaton’s NBA professional career was incredibly unlikely. Before a Cypress Junior College assistant coach noticed his potential, he was employed as a car repairman. After that, he continued to play for them before moving to UCLA. In the fourth round of the 1982 draft, he came in at number 72. He was signed by the Utah Jazz, where he spent 11 seasons playing between 1982 and 1993. Later, Utah coach Frank Layden would use the adage “you can’t teach height” to justify his decision.

Eaton never had a lot of offensive skills. He became one of the best defensive centres in NBA history thanks to his height. In 1985 and 1989, he was named NBA Defensive Player of the Year twice. Eaton was a fierce shot-blocker as well. With 3.5 BPG, he now owns the record for blocks per game. Perhaps the biggest contributing element to the Utah Jazz’s 1983 first-ever postseason trip was Eaton’s formidable defence. 351 shots were stopped by Eaton this season. Interestingly, Kareem Abdul Jabbar’s hook, which scored his 31,421st point—the record for the most points ever—was one of the attempts he failed to save.

John Stockton, Mark Eaton, and Karl Malone combined to produce one of the most lethal teams in NBA history. Utah Jazz was a fantastic squad because of their diverse play styles. Similar to all athletes of his stature, he experienced foot and knee issues that hindered his progress. The 1992–93 season marked his official retirement. During the 1995–96 season, Eaton’s number 53 was retired by the Utah Jazz as a way to remember his contributions to the team.

7. Slavko Vranes

Slavko had a brief career as an NBA player. Most likely, he just has one record, and it would be very challenging to break. His NBA career came to an end after just three minutes of play—yes, you read that right—for the Portland Trail Blazers. To be fair, though, because of his height, there were simply too many expectations placed on him. The Knicks selected him with the 39th pick in the second round of the 2003 draft. Afterwards, they sent him to the Trail Blazers. He is a current Iranian Super League player for Sanaye Petroshimi BC.

6. Pavel Podkolzin

Another tall athlete who gave the NBA a glimpse into existence is Pavel Podkolzin. The Utah Jazz selected him with the 21st overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft. Despite his lacklustre contribution to the game, he dispels two long-held myths about the NBA: Tall players consistently perform well; first-round selections turn into excellent players. However, in exchange for another first-round pick, he was transferred to the Dallas Mavericks. He participated in six games across two seasons.

5. Chuck Nevitt

Chuck Nevitt had a turbulent career. He was born on June 13, 1959. He entered and left the NBA. He played for the Lakers, Bulls, Pistons, Rockets, and Spurs before being traded around the league. He was, in fact, a member of the Lakers championship squad that won in 1985. Only 155 games were played over his nine-year NBA career. His greatest season total of games played was forty-three. He is the tallest player in championship history.

4. Yao Ming

Yao Ming is arguably the list’s most gifted attacking player, just as anticipated. Yao was the first overall selection in the 2002 draft. The Houston Rockets chose him in the first round. From 2002 until 2011, he spent ten seasons as a player for the Rockets. Yao was not expected to succeed in the NBA by many. One intriguing incident occurred during his first preseason. In his rookie season, Charles Barkley declared that he would “Kiss Kenny Smith’s ass if he scores more than 19 points in one game.” Charles Barkley kissed the buttock of a donkey that Kenny Smith had purchased (Kenny Smith’s “ass”) and Yao scored twenty points against the Lakers.

Yao’s promotion to the first team led to a few racist incidents (Shaq’s joke, Miami giving out 8,000 fortune cookies). Nonetheless, Yao handled each one of them with grace and a sense of humour. Shaq lost the vote to start Yao in the 2003 NBA All-Star Game. Yao’s popularity was so great that in the 2005–06 season, he beat Michael Jordan’s previous record for the most All-Star votes with 2,558,278 total votes.

3. Shawn Bradley

Shawn Bradley spent 12 seasons as an NBA player, from 1993 to 2005. The Philadelphia 76ers selected him with the second overall pick in the draft. He was among the most prosperous athletes in Utah’s history as a high school player.

Like many of the big players who came before him, Bradley attracted a lot of attention when he joined the league. He was criticised as well as praised. Critics contended that his slender build would likely work against him, while supporters predicted his athleticism to dominate the league. He was given the jersey number 76 because he was a 7’6′′ player for the 76ers. He was a player for the Dallas Mavericks and New Jersey Nets as well.

There were some similarities between Bradley and Mark Eaton. Neither ever made a lot of offensive plays. Both had patchy success scoring and grabbing rebounds. Both, though, were outstanding shot blockers. One major distinction was that Eaton was rarely used indoors due to his size.

Bradley had a bad habit of getting into foul trouble early on, which would limit his playing time. Like many others before him, he was quickly becoming injured. He experienced issues with his back, knees, and ankles before retiring in 2004–05.

2. Manute Bol

Manute Bol was born on October 16, 1962 in Sudan. In the second round, he was selected with the 31st overall selection. The Washington Bullets drafted him. His colleagues knew him to be a very popular and amiable athlete. Bol was a player with the Miami Heat, Philadelphia 76ers, Golden State Warriors, and Washington Bullets.

Bol was an excellent shot blocker in his debut season, averaging just under 5 BPG. His outstanding shot-blocking prowess was a result of his enormous height and wingspan (8′ 6′′, 2.59 m). However, several parts of his game—mostly his absurdly thin physique—were viewed as weak. He was only 200 pounds (91 kg) in weight. He had a tough time going up against the typically strong centres in the low post. It’s interesting to note that Bol used to occasionally shoot and make threes.

Bol usually suffered from a lot of lower body problems, and in his later years, he served as a mentor to two of the league’s tallest players, Shawn Bradley and Gheorge Muresan.

1. Gheorghe Muresan

Muresan and Bol are both 7’7′′ tall, however, most people consider Muresan to be slightly taller than Bol. His birthday is February 14, 1971. His pituitary condition, hyperpituitarism, is the cause of his height. The Washington Bullets selected him with the 30th overall pick in the second round of the draft. He was an NBA player for six seasons.

He came and went from the NBA. He played with Pau Orthez (France), the New Jersey Nets, and the Washington Bullets in the NBA. Although he showed promise, injuries crippled his body from the start of his rookie season. For the 1995–96 NBA season, he was named the league’s Most Improved Player. Due to his injuries, he eventually had to retire after experiencing less-than-ideal years.

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