Skip to Content

Do NBA Players Lie About Their Height?

We all know someone who likes to sneak in a couple of extra inches when they tell someone their height. When I was applying to Universities for basketball scolarships, I would sneak a few inches on my height and would become 6ft 6 inches tall rather than my actual height of 6ft 4 inches. If I am doing this to get noticed by unviersity programmes, you maybe wondered do NBA Players lies about thier height?

Do NBA Players Lie About their Height? Yes, NBA players lied about their height in order to play the position they wanted to play. However, this is no longer possible as the NBA standardized players’ heights in 2019.

In essence, the short answer is: Yes. But not always in the same way that we, the non-athletes, do. Your short friend Craig likes to stretch the truth and tell girls at the bar that he’s five-foot-eight as if they aren’t standing right next to him. But there are some instances of NBA superstars going the other way with it, saying they are shorter than they really are. This idea made no sense to me. I couldn’t understand what advantage they would have to pretend to be shorter than they really are. We decided to do a deep-dive and get to the bottom of why NBA players lie about their height.

Why Do NBA Players Lie About Their Height?

In the past NBA players would lie in order to play the position they wished to play. Answering this question is the tricky part. There have been accounts like Kevin Durant’s. In a 2016 Wall Street Journal by Chris Herring, KD said that he has been understating his height since he entered the league. “For me, when I’m talking to women, I’m seven feet. In basketball circles, I’m six-nine.” He was quoted to say. This is because he does not want to get pushed into a position he doesn’t want to play. Being tagged as a seven-footer immediately adds him to the power forward/center conversation, but he always knew he wanted to play small forward. He thought six-foot-nine sounded like the ideal height for a small forward, so that’s what he went with. Kevin Garnett did the same thing. Listed at six-foot-eleven, even though he was widely thought to be a seven-footer around the league, he feared that he would be put into a box as a center instead of his position of power forward. His former coach in Minnesota, Flip Saunders, was quoted saying he would often refer to him as six-foot-thirteen.

There are more examples of players not having their accurate height listed. In a 2003 New York Times article, Nets forward Jason Collins is quoted saying, “In sneakers, with my orthotics, ankle braces and two pairs of socks, I’m a good 6-11 1/2, it’s almost a joke.” All while being listed on the National Basketball Association’s player registry at seven-feet-tall. He was said actually to be about six-foot-eight. Collins said on Media Day in his junior year, he told the sports information guy that he wanted to be seven feet, and it stuck with him ever since.

There are even some tall-tales about the heights of players mysteriously changing throughout their career when they switch teams, or even year-to-year when they are on the same team. In fact, it’s pretty common. In 2008 Dan Dickau was playing for the Los Angeles Clippers and was listed at six-feet tall. One year later, in 2009. Dickau was in the Suns training camp registered at six-foot-three. To shun the idea of this being a case of a chance growth spurt, Dickau was 30 years old.

There have been many other instances where players’ height has changed throughout their career or just been plain lied about. Larry Johnson was one of the more exaggerated listed heights. Larry played forward for the Hornets and the Knicks and was once listed as six-foot-seven. But when he was measured at the pre-draft camp in Chicago, he measured in at just over six-foot-three. If you look up Larry Johnson’s height right now, in the year 2020, you will find six-foot-three, six-foot-five-and-a-half, and six-foot-seven, depending on the website you’re on. Allen Iverson was listed as six-foot-one for multiple seasons, but even the NBA’s 2001 MVP came up short. He was two or three inches less. One time he told the Philadelphia 76ers announcer to introduce him at six-foot-two, and he did. This idea caught fire and led his teammate Eric Snow, six-foot-two but listed as six-foot-three, to get the announcer to give him another extra inch.

Players would embellish their height starting in high school all the way through college to make themselves more attractive to scouts. In college, Malik Rose played for Drexel University and started as a six-foot-six center. He didn’t think that scouts would want to travel to a low-ranked Division-1 school, so he got his height bumped up an inch to six-seven, and he has said in the past that it made a difference for him.

The height confusion is due to a lack of a standardized measurement system in the NBA. Which sounds crazy, we know. During NBA pre-draft, players could either be measured in their shoes or barefoot. There is the case of JJ Barea, who is five-foot-ten barefoot and five-foot-ten-and-three-quarters in shoes according to DraftExpress, and also according to JJ himself. During one of the Mavericks lineup introductions, the announcer brought him out as a six-footer. Which, in the Wall Street Journal, he was quoted to laugh at and say he was “five-ten on a good day.” He has insisted that he never asked anyone to exaggerate his height.

The era of height-shaving or inflation has come to an end. After 70 years since they got their name, the NBA has finally decided to standardize players’ height, weight, and age for the 2019 season. Players are to be measured by their teams, without shoes. This caused a lot of changes in listed measurements from the 2018 season.

Dwight Howard and Anthony Davis both went from six-foot-eleven down to six-foot-nine-and three-quarters.

Klay Thompson went from six-foot-seven to six-foot-five.

Tacko Fall dropped from seven-foot-seven to a, still monstrous, seven-foot-five.

Bradley Beal went from six-foot-five down to six-three.

J.J Barea was brought back to earth and is now officially listed at five-ten.

In his 17th season, somehow, Lebron James gained half an inch from his previous season at six-foot-eight.

Kevin Durant, it turns out, was actually telling the truth all along. At least about being under seven-feet tall. Measured barefoot, he is now listed at six-foot-ten.

The standardization came at an interesting time. All those years of players hiding their real height so they could maintain the position they wanted to play, to all be set straight during the positionless era of six-foot-eleven Giannis Antetokounmpo playing point guard.