Boban Marjanovic: Is 7’3 Center the Tallest Player in the NBA? Not Anymore!

USA Today
Photo: USA Today

With Serbia national basketball team impressing at the FIBA World Cup, one player particularly caught the attention of the spectators. And it’s not just for his performances; it’s also for his height. We’re talking about Serbian center Boban Marjanovic, who was the tallest player on the tournament, standing at 7’3.

He might have been the tallest guy at the World Cup, but how does he fare in the NBA? Well, he’s among the tallest men there as well.

Tallest Players in the NBA Today

Boban Marjanovic has just actually lost the top place as the NBA’s tallest player to Boston Celtics rookie Tacko Fall. The Senegalese center was measured at the 2019 draft, when it was revealed that he’s the new record holder in several instances. Not only is he the tallest NBA player standing at 7’7 (with shoes on), but he’s also the player with the highest standing reach (10’2½), as well as the player with the largest wingspan (8’2¼).

Before Tacko Fall signed a professional contract, Boban Marjanovic was sharing the top place on the list of tallest NBA players with Kristaps Porzingis. The Latvian center playing for Dallas Mavericks is officially listed as 7’3 high, the same as the towering Serbian.

On the other end of the table stands Isaiah Thomas, the league’s shortest player. At 5’9, the point guard of the Washington Wizards is way below the league average which is listed as 6’7. But, being much below the average doesn’t seem to a big disadvantage to the 2017 All-NBA Team honoree.

Size Doesn’t Matter Too Much in the NBA

If you take a look at the past, you’ll see that only one player with the height of over 7 feet has ever won the MVP award in the 21st century. However, in the past, it seems that the player height mattered more. Shaq O’Neil, Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson, are just some of the MVP award winners with the height over 7 feet.

But, when it comes to the 2019-20 season, the NBA’s tallest men are not among the favorites for the MVP Award. According to NBA betting experts over at VegasOdds.com, the biggest contenders for the award are Giannis Antetokounmpo, Steph Curry, James Harden, and LeBron James, in that particular order. The tallest of those four is Antetokounmpo, standing at 6’11. Although he is taller than average, he still doesn’t belong to the group of the tallest NBA men.

Tallest Players in NBA History

Even though they are dominating the season when the height is concerned, Marjanovic, Porzingis, and even Tacko Fall are still significantly shorter than the all-time tallest NBA players. The tallest man ever to play in the NBA is Gheorghe Mureșan. The 7’7 Romanian played for Washington Bullets and New Jersey Nets back in the nineties.

Another nineties’ player, Manute Bol is on this list. Officially listed at 7’7 tall, he’s only a small portion shorter than Muresan. The same goes for Shawn Bradley, who also saw the peak of his career in the 1990s.

Boban Marjanovic is currently number 13 in the hall of fame of the tallest NBA players, although he’s going to drop down as soon as Tacko Fall makes his professional debut for the Celtics. Of course, it’s still a big ‘if’ when it comes to Fall’s NBA future. The Celtics have a competitive roster, so it’s still unsure whether he’ll make it to the first team.

Actually, most of the ‘NBA giants’ just didn’t have overly illustrious careers. Slavko Vranes is a perfect example of that. The 7’5 Montenegrin played only 3 minutes in the NBA. It happened when his team Portland Trail Blazers faced Minnesota Timberwolves in 2004.    

On the other hand, China’s Yao Ming did leave a big mark in the NBA. He even made it to the Hall of Fame and had played a part in an All-Star Game while playing for Houston Rockets. Actually, the 7’6 player is the most successful of all the top 10 tallest players in NBA history.

Tallest Basketball Players Outside the NBA

Although the NBA is the championship of giants, most of the world’s tallest basketball players never had the chance to play in the elite league. The reason is simple – those guys simply didn’t have enough to offer to the game, apart from their size.

The world’s tallest basketball player at the moment, Sun Mingming (7’9), did have an attempt to get to the NBA. In 2015, he took part in the draft but no teams showed interest. He did, however, play in the NCAAB, for Ventura College in the season 2015-06, before continuing his career in minor leagues.

The tallest person to play basketball professionally was Suleiman Ali Nashnush from Lybia, whose height was measured at over 8 feet back in the 1960s. Actually, he’s one of only 17 players in medical history to have a height of more than 8 feet.

However, while he was a professional basketball player, his height was 7’10, which would still beat even the tallest players in NBA history. The reason why his height dropped was that he underwent surgery to correct his abnormal size.

Tallest Athletes in History

Considering that in order to score points in basketball you need to put the ball through the hoop standing at 10 feet, it’s not surprising that world’s tallest athletes are competing in this sport. Still, the tallest athlete in recorded history was not a basketball player, but a wrestler.

Edouard Beaupre a.k.a. Willow Bunch Giant was a Canadian wrestler whose career reached its peak at the turn of the 20th century. Although his professional achievements weren’t too impressive, he will be remembered in history for his incredible height and weight. While still a professional wrestler, Beaupre was measured 8 feet 2.5 inches, with a weight of more than 400 pounds. However, due to a pituitary gland problem, he kept on growing even when his sporting career was over. According to his death certificate, he was 8’3 when he died.