By Court Zierk @courtzierk on August 24, 2014
The NBA has always been a league dominated by tall athletes -- the type of guys you would see on the street and instantly know they played basketball. These 10 guys, however, were the tallest of the tall -- guys who appeared in the record books for their extraordinary height.
Priest Lauderdale had a brief career in the NBA, playing in a total of two seasons, one with Atlanta (1996-97) and one with Denver (1997-98). At 325 pounds, he was also one of the overall largest men on this list, not of the bean-pole variety. Lauderdale would go on to play in the CBA, and eventually made the journey to Europe where he bounced around for a decade before finally calling it a career.
Ralph Sampson was undoubtedly one of the most successful players on this list. He is best known for playing along Hakeem Olajuwon (then spelled Akeem), to form one half of the “Twin Towers” for the Houston Rockets. Sampson played in the NBA for 10 seasons, making one appearance in the All-Star game in 1985 and one NBA Finals appearance.
Rik Smits was a mainstay in Indiana for 12 seasons, during which time he would average 14.8 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks per game. The “Dunkin’ Dutchman” was consistently the No. 2 player behind Reggie Miller on the successful Indians Pacers teams of the mid and late 1990s.
Mark Eaton played 11 seasons for the Utah Jazz from 1982-93, and established himself as one of the better defensive centers of that era. He was a one-time All-Star team selection in 1989, and won two Defensive Player of the Year awards (1985, 1989). He is still fourth on the all-time blocked shots list, and still holds the record for most blocked shots in a season (456). Really, no one has even come close to approaching that level since.
Slavko Vranes played a total of three minutes in the NBA, for the 2003-04 New York Knicks, but he played nonetheless, and at 7-foot-5, he must be mentioned on this list. After his brief stint in the NBA, he bounced around the Euroleague for the better part of a decade.
Chuck Nevitt was a journeyman center in the NBA for nine seasons, during which time he played for seven different teams. He only played more than 10 minutes per game once in his career, his rookie season, where he averaged 3.8 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game.
The “Stormin’ Mormon” entered the 1993 draft as one of the most intriguing draft prospects of all time. He was taken with the second pick, but never really materialized into the player many thought he could become. He did play in the league for 11 seasons, with his best years coming in the mid 90’s between when he played with the Nets and the Mavericks. For his career, he managed to average 8.1 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game.
Yao Ming takes the cake in terms of the overall quality of his career. One of the most popular athletes of all time, due largely to his incredible Chinese following, Ming played for the Rockets for eight seasons, ranks sixth among the Rockets' all-time franchise leaders for total points and rebounds, and sits at second on their leader board for blocks. Ming’s career was cut short due to a string of foot and ankle injuries.
Born in Romania, George Muresan played in six NBA seasons, four for the Washington Bullets and two with the New Jersey Nets. He put together a pretty nice three year stretch from 1994-97, where he averaged 11.7 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks per game. He was named the NBA’s Most Improved Player for the 1995-96 season. His career was cut short due to a lingering back injury.
Manute Bol is widely known as the tallest player to ever play in the NBA, but his career is far more mystery and intrigue than substance. He played for 10 years in the league, only averaging 2.6 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.3 blocks. Weighing only 201 pounds, Bol was easily pushed around by the league’s much stronger players. Due to his height, he was always able to block shots at an impressive clip, but his skill set beyond that was limited.
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