New Jersey Nets center Jason Collins is listed at 7-feet tall in the NBA's player guide.
Truth be told, Collins needs a boost to even come close.
"In sneakers, with my orthotics, ankle braces and two pairs of socks, I'm a good 6-111/2," said a chuckling Collins, whose Nets trail the San Antonio Spurs 2-1 in the best-of-seven NBA Finals heading into tonight's Game 4 in New Jersey. "It's almost a joke."
Collins, who's more like 6-foot-8, isn't the only basketball player telling a tall tale.
Many NBA hopefuls exaggerate their height while in high school or college to make themselves more appealing to coaches and scouts who prefer taller players. Collins, for example, remembers the exact day he picked to experience a growth spurt.
"Media day, my junior year," the Stanford graduate said. "I told our sports information guy that I wanted to be 7 feet and it's been 7 feet ever since."
Collins isn't fooling any of his teammates.
Four-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year Dikembe Mutombo, a legitimate 7-foot-2, said he and Collins don't exactly see eye-to- eye.
"They're giving him 4 inches," Mutombo said. "There are a lot of guys who list heights that they are not."
Mutombo said Larry Johnson, the former Charlotte Hornets and New York Knicks forward, was among the most grandiose exaggerators. While at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, Johnson was purportedly 6- foot-7. At the NBA's annual pre-draft camp, however, he barely topped 6-3.
"When guys are checked out in Chicago, it's the amazing shrinking measurement," said Marty Blake, the NBA's director of scouting.
The NBA doesn't measure players, which is probably why 1993 Most Valuable Player Charles Barkley got away with being listed at 6-foot- 6. Many who played against Barkley said he was, at most, 6- 4.
Several active players, including Philadelphia 76ers point guard Allen Iverson, are also practicing fuzzy measurement.
Officially, the league's 2001 MVP is listed at 6-foot-1.
"There's no way," Spurs forward Malik Rose said. "He's like 5- 11."
Rose, who's listed at 6-foot-7, admits to having fibbed about his height. Rose said he's actually 6-6, but felt he needed another inch or two in order to entice NBA scouts to consider an undersized forward from Drexel University.
"Nobody's going to go see a 6-6 center from a low-level Division I school so they gave me that one inch that helped," Rose said.
NBA spokesman Tim Frank said the league counts on its teams to give accurate measurements of their players, who don't necessarily need to change their height.
Victor Dolan, head of the chiropractic division at Doctors' Hospital in New York, said players can increase their height by getting measured early in the morning because vertebrae get compressed as the day progresses. A little upside-down stretching doesn't hurt, either.
"If you get measured on an inversion machine, and do it when you first wake up, maybe you could squeeze out an extra inch-and-a- half," Dolan said.
I know he was 7 feet, but Walt thought it made him look extraordinarily tall, Blake said.
Spurs veteran Steve Kerr laughed when asked which players lied most about their height. He cited the now-defunct World Basketball League, which originally permitted only players under 6-foot-5.
Kerr said aspiring NBA players, many of whom were listed at 6-8 and over, wound up honing their skills in the WBL.
They lost 4 inches in a six-month period, said Kerr, who is listed at -- and actually stands -- 6-foot-3.
Former NBA All-Star Nate Tiny Archibald, who grew up in New York, said no one he played with or against cared that he was 6-foot-1 while he was zipping past defenders on the asphalt courts.
In the city, it wasn't how tall you were, he said. It was about developing a rep.
Plenty of NBA teams will be interested in free-agent point guard Earl Boykins, who at 5-foot-5 is the shortest player in the league this season.
Boykins, who averaged 8.8 points as a reserve for the Golden State Warriors this season, said it's about time general managers and scouts abandon their bigger-is-better mentality.
The NBA is so biased toward guys that are taller, Boykins said. Either you can play or you can't.
The NBA's top official isn't about to call for league-mandated measurements of players. Commissioner David Stern, whose height isn't listed in the NBA guide but was once estimated at 5-foot-9, said the disparity between reality and hype only adds to the intrigue of the game.
If they told you the exact heights they would have to eliminate you, Stern said. It's one of the best-kept secrets in sports.>
Ben Wallace Height is very enigmatic i do not know whether he is 6'5 or 6'7. I mean he was billed at 6'9, Ben does not look taller than the 6'1 Ben Gordon and Sophomore Tyrus Thomas who is a legit 6'7 1/4 is 2 1/4 inches taller than Wallace.
Tyrus Thomas 6'7 1/4 and Ben Wallace
According to his Biography
How do figure a guy like Ben Wallace? He turns down a big-time football scholarship to play hoops at a community college, makes the NBA as a walk-on, then goes from 12th man on a bad team to an All-Star starter on a championship contender. Ben got where he is today with old-fashioned tenacity—you might say he’s a “fro-back,” not to mention the most valuable forward in basketball. This is his story…
Ben Wallace was born September 10, 1974, in White Hall, Alabama. The 10th of 11 children, and the youngest of eight brothers, he spent his early childhood in nearby Benton, which was declared the smallest town in America back in the 1960s. Later, the family moved to White Hall. Ben’s mother, Mama Sadie, was the family matriarch—her word was law, and none of the Wallace boys dared to defy her. She raised food and a small cotton crop near the house, and made all the clothes for her family. Resourcefulness and hard work were a way of life, lessons which Ben took to heart.
There was not a lot of extra cash in the Wallace home (they never had a car and were the last family in the area to get electricity), so all the kids had to pitch in. When Ben and his brothers wanted spending money, they picked pecans or bailed hay for local farmers.
Ben spent a lot of time with his siblings fishing and playing basketball. They had put up a rim on the side of their tiny, three-bedroom house, and with so many kids around, it was easy to get together games of three-on-three and four-on-four. The battles could get mighty fierce. Because he was usually the smallest kid on the court, the only way Ben ever got his hands on the rock was by rebounding it, stealing it, or saving it from going out of bounds. Incredibly, he is still the smallest boy in the family all these years later.
Ben—who would eventually grow to 6-7 and 240 pounds (he’s listed at 6-9, but that’s counting his hair)—was a strong, wiry kid who excelled at baseball, football and basketball. By the time he graduated from Central High School in Hayneville, he would earn All-State honors in each of these sports. He also ran track.
As a teenager, Ben liked to handle the basketball. He fancied himself as a new-age hybrid, blending the skills required by each different position. Sometimes he would take over games and actually play every position, much to the chagrin of his teammates and the annoyance of his coaches. Although Ben liked to boast he could shoot like Isiah, pass like Magic and dunk like Michael, the reality was something short of that.