Tuesday , Feb , 21 , 2012 Matt Formica

Littler Big Men: 7 Ballers in the NBA That are Proving it’s Not All About Size

There’s a Zen saying I came across a few months ago that reads simply: “You must believe in yourself.” 

In this “shortened” NBA season, (and yes, pun is intended in this case and you will soon see why), we are seeing “shorter” players rising to the occasions night after night and carrying their much taller counterparts on their far more vertically-challenged backs.  The shorter guys in the league are proving to NBA fans all over that you don’t need to be the biggest guy to have the largest impact on the game.  They are proving what Zen philosophers have known for thousands of years:  Believing in yourself will get you farther than any gene ever could.  Here is a list of seven of today’s standout players in the NBA who through what appears to be a genuine belief in oneself, have put up BIG numbers for their respective teams; all the while barely standing 6 feet 3 inches tall.  

Jeremy Lin aka Linsanity, Lincredible, Linderella Man, Linja Assasin, Super Lintendo:

6’3, 191 lbs Season averages: 14.6 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 6.1 APG (Has averaged 24 points and 9 assists as a starter) Jeremy Lin, Linsanity, Knicks

Any fan of the NBA by now knows the story and has seen the recent successes being had by the New York Knicks with Jeremy Lin at the point guard position.  I heard him say on ESPN recently that his favorite nickname is Super Lintendo and I LLOL’d – Legitimately Laughed Out Loud.  And “super” he has been.  While the world was first introduced to Jeremy Lin in a loss against the Celtics on February 3rd, (D’Antoni took him off the bench to play a little over 4 minutes at the end of that game) it was the game against the Nets the following night that he came off the bench early, got valuable minutes and took the basketball world by storm.  In the 36 minutes he played in what my opinion was his first real shot at the NBA, the 23-year old had 25 points and 7 assists.  Since Coach Mike D’Antoni gave him that opportunity, Lin’s numbers have spoken for themselves and a city that hasn’t been a legitimate contender in the NBA in quite some time and desperately needed a spark to get them there, have won roughly the last 80% of their games.  (Including a win against the Lakers when Lin dropped a modest 38 on Kobe and company).  Pretty legit in my opinion.  Who knows what Lin will continue to do but all I know is, it’s pretty clear that the smaller guy from California believes in himself and as a result, I believe in him.  



Rajon Rondo: 6’1, 186 lbs Season averages: 14.2 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 9.6 APG Rajon Rondo, Celtics

After being drafted by Phoenix and subsequently traded to Boston, it only took a year before Rondo was the starting point guard, leading his team and the city of Boston to an NBA championship.  We all remember last year when he suffered what appeared to be a brutal elbow injury and proceeded to play the game one handed.  This year, Rondo’s big numbers are helping to keep the Celtics in 2nd place in their division.  



Kyle Lowry: 6’0, 200 lbs Season Averages 15.8 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 7.5 APG Kyle Lowry, Rockets  

I went to Villanova University during the years the Kyle Lowry was playing college basketball and while I always thought he was a great college player, I never thought he would be one of the notable guards in the league.  If you know Kyle Lowry then you know that he believes otherwise.  It was rumored that on his official visit to Syracuse, he put on his headphones while meeting with legendary coach Jim Boeheim.  Apparently, he didn’t need to hear anything from him.  Whether or not the rumor is true doesn’t matter.  What matters is that Lowry knew that he didn’t want to be an Orangeman but was damn good enough to play anywhere else.  When he declared for the draft after his sophomore year, I know I wasn’t the only one questioning the decision.  But guess who didn’t question that decision and also didn’t care who did?  Kyle Lowry.  Barely standing 6 feet even, he has been distributing the ball well and scoring points when his team needs him to.  And if Jeremy Lin hadn’t come out of the woodwork from who knows where this season, Kyle Lowry would definitely be a serious candidate for this season’s Most Improved Player Award.  

Tony Parker 6’2, 185 lbs Season Averages: 19.1 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 8.1 APG Tony Parker, Spurs

While Tony Parker may play for one of the more boring teams in the league, it’s fair to say he has been dominant at the point guard position.  Not only does he distribute the ball better than most, but he also is averaging nearly 20 points per game this season.  Not bad considering it’s not just his job to score and he barely stands 6’2.  This year is Parker’s 10th season in the league and since getting drafted in 2001, he has been selected as an All Star four times and led the Spurs to three NBA Championships in 2003, 2005, and 2007.  Those numbers aren’t exactly small either.  




Derrick Rose 6’3, 190 lbs Season Averages: 22.4 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 7.6 APG Derrick Rose, Bulls

Arguably the most explosive player in the league, Derrick Rose has been an utter beast.  Plain and simple.  Minus the games he’s missed recently due to back pain, Rose has been incredible.  It’s not just that he can score, pass, dribble, rebound, jump high, play defense, or do pretty much anything on the basketball court, but Derrick Rose is a competitor.  You can watch him play for less than five minutes and I think you’ll see what we all see: a guy who believes in himself.  He just seems to play harder.  And I’m sure his inherent belief in his ability has undoubtedly contributed to his success.  Not to mention, every time I hear him speak, he comes across as a humble man and true professional.  I look forward to watching his 6’3 frame continuing to dominate the game for years to come.  




Steve Nash 6’3, 178 lbs Season Averages: 13.9 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 10.9 APG

Steve Nash, SunsAt 38 years old, and 6’3 inches tall, South African born, Canadian Steve Nash continues to be one of the best little men in the NBA.  Watching him play is like watching the ballet.  He’s calm and collected and his game just flows.  I think almost everyone would agree that despite not having an NBA championship under his belt, he has done everything else.  He’s been named the league’s MVP twice,  he’s been an NBA All-Star 8 times, has been the NBA’s assist leader 5 times and is one of only 5 players in history in the 50-40-90 club (50% or better in field goals made, 40% or better in three pointers made, and 90% or better from the free-throw line).  Pretty incredible for a guy who can barely dunk.  He clearly believes in himself.  Oh, and the other four players in the 50-40-90 club?  Larry Bird, Mark Price, Reggie Miller, and Dirk Nowitzki.  Not exactly a group of lightweights.  



Chris Paul 6’0, 175 lbs Season Averages: 19.5 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 8.5 APG Chris Paul, Clippers

Well it certainly seems that the Clippers made a strong move when they traded away Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman, and Al-Farouq Aminu and Minnesota’s unprotected 2012 first-round pick for Chris Paul.  (They will also receive two future second-round picks but that seems just like a bonus at this point.)  Since making that trade, the 6 foot baller has led one of the league’s most exciting teams to watch to a 16-8 record and has put them on the map as a team that other teams should worry about.  Also noteworthy of Paul, in my opinion, is that as a freshman in high school he was 5 feet tall and while going through a growth spurt a few years later, was only 5’10 as a senior.  But he believed in his ability, was then recruited by Wake Forest only to declare for the draft after his sophomore year.  Why did he declare so early?  He believed in himself.  (Note: In the games Paul played in at Wake Forest, their team’s record was 48-16, a .750 winning percentage.  Not bad considering he was probably the smallest guy on the team).



Image sources:

Kyle Lowry

http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/3613301938/sizes/m/in/photostream/



Tony Parker of the San Antonio Spurs

Derrick Rose

Chris Paul