RALEIGH — Muggsy Bogues couldn’t help but laugh when he heard fellow inductee Sam Mills described as a “diminutive 5-foot-9 linebacker” during an introduction ceremony for new members of the Hall of Fame. North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame on Friday.
“If he’s small, what does that make me? the former Wake Forest and Charlotte Hornets point guard joked of the late Carolina Panthers star.
At just 5-foot-3, Bogues is the shortest man to ever play in the NBA. His size, while remarkable, was anything but a liability.
After a stellar career at Wake Forest where he twice led the ACC in assists and steals while setting school records in both categories, he enjoyed a 14-year professional career that saw him become the one of the most popular players of the original Charlotte Hornets.
Bogues and Mills, who coined the Panthers’ motto ‘Keep Pounding’ during his courageous battle with cancer, are among a class of 11 honored members who were inducted into the Hall of Fame at a ceremony at Raleigh Convention Center.
The others are Baseball Hall of Famer Luke Appling, women’s basketball pioneer Missouri Arledge, athletic trainer Ronnie Barnes, college and pro basketball star Henry Bibby, golf coach Dan Brooks, stars of football Torry Holt and Timmy Newsome, college basketball coach Dave Robbins and television personality. Tom Suiter.
Mills, Appling and Arledge were inducted posthumously.
Although Bogues was born in Maryland, where he helped Dunbar High School in Baltimore to a 60-0 record and a No. 1 national ranking in his final two seasons, he has become synonymous with North Carolina. due to its association with deacons and hornets.
After one season with the Washington Bullets, he was taken by Charlotte in the 1988 expansion draft. He then played 10 seasons with the team, setting franchise records with 5,557 assists and 1,067 steals.
Bogues continues to live in Charlotte, where he serves as a community ambassador for the Hornets and works with his own charitable foundation. He said being inducted into his adopted country’s Hall of Fame makes the honor all the more special.
“It’s great that another state was able to welcome me with open arms,” he said. “To have your career placed in a historic place is amazing. It’s something you never dreamed of when you were a kid. I am humbly honored.
Bugs, whose first name is Tyrone, was originally part of the 2021 class of the State Hall of Fame. Because he was unable to attend last year’s ceremony due to a scheduling conflict, he postponed his induction to Friday.
“It makes more sense to be here in person,” he said. “It’s good to be among your peers and the other people who are inducted.”
This includes Mills, whom Bogues befriended and considers a role model because of how he handled the adversity of his terminal illness.
“I miss him a lot,” Bogues said. “He meant so much to the Panthers and North Carolina State and continues to be an inspiration. He was a guy who had a big heart and stood for nothing less than excellence.”
While Bogues, like Mills, overcame obstacles on his path to athletic success due to his size — or lack thereof — he never viewed his stature as a liability.
“I think people felt like the game was supposed to be just for bigger or bigger players, and I had a different opinion about that,” he said. “I felt like the game was for anyone who has the ability to play it. Being able to have that mindset has allowed me to go as far as I’ve come.
“Whatever your composition, you have to understand your strengths and weaknesses and lean towards your strengths. I knew my strengths and my abilities.
These talents proved to be perfectly suited to the teams in which he played. Not only did he help Wake Forest advance to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament, but he was also a key member of the Hornets during their rise from expansion team to perennial playoff contender. playoffs in the mid to late 1990s.
“We won a lot of games with big people,” said Hall of Fame inductee Robbins, a Gastonia native who won 713 games and three Division II national championships at Virginia Union, which tried unsuccessfully to recruit Bogues out of high school. “But if I had Muggsy, we would have won a lot more.”