THE NBA’S HEIGHT CONSPIRACY

Charles Barkley the player who was listed taller than he really was.

The NBA, after years of making up heights, has decided that they would finally list players at their correct height. The issue is this is 20 years too late and many people, regardless of the real listings or not, will still let their imagination let them think that players are much taller than they actually are. The thing about NBA players is that to some, they are not just athletic phenoms but also superhero-like figures who regular people want to be special and not like regular people. As much as fans want a short man to dominate the NBA, they really want to hear that a certain NBA player was 7 feet tall who dominated the NBA, so that they can go to sleep at night and believe that they didn’t make it because they just weren’t tall enough. Fans would much rather hear that a player such as Charles Barkley was 6’6 instead of his real height of 6’4 or shorter. This just kind of kills the mythological figures that NBA players have become. Prior to today’s NBA, height was recognized by position. If you where a point guard, you where under 6’3. If you where a shooting guard you had to have a height of 6’3 to 6’6. If you where a small forward, you could be anywhere from 6’6 to 6’9. Power Forwards were in the range of 6’8 to 6’11. Centers where designated as the 7 footer and above. This simple reason over the years is why players who were shorter than the listed requirement for height where listed as taller than they really are. A great example of this theory is Kevin Durant: even though he is closer to 7 foot tall, if he actually came out saying he was 7 foot tall, then the NBA would automatically had him try to be a back-to-the-basket center even though his skill set was more suited for the small forward position. Many players in the NBA, based on their physical build, are listed as taller or shorter to make them fit better into their NBA position. The NBA also has kind of set a guideline for height that they submit to the public in order to add to the majestic value of the NBA. For instance, Chris Paul being 6 foot might not be exactly true or Isiah Thomas actually being 5’10 might be a stretch of the imagination. The NBA in yesteryear was doing its best to protect its brand and wanted the general public to believe that height directly related to what position a player played. This exercise seems silly now that the NBA has adapted to positionless basketball, where it doesn’t matter how tall you are as long as you can play. In the last NBA season alone many players played positions regardless of height based on their skill set. Draymond plays power forward and center because with his length he can defend bigger players, plus his ball handling and passing make him a mismatch nightmare for those who have to defend him. Durant could have said he is a 7 footer when he came into the league, but coaches would have automatically started exploring their options because his game was better suited playing the small forward position. What the general public might not understand is that even if a player is 6’9.5″, if you are a regular person you will think that you saw a 7 footer. Kevin Durant might not have been lying when he said he was 6’9. The thing is most big men have been around 6’9 and were listed at 7 foot to scare opposing teams and to give fans this unrealistic belief that NBA players where taller than they actually were. A couple of preliminary heights have come out for players who where thought to be taller than they really were. One surprise was Joel Embid not actually being 7 foot but 6’11. The thing is that the measurements the NBA has required the teams to submit, were not just players’ heights in shoes: they also wanted players’ heights without shoes. This leads to a very hard-to-believe height because players do not play bare footed. They play in shoes. The NBA would have been better off measuring players in shoes because it will be hard for fans to believe the heights when players show up on the court and look a few inches taller. Shoes can give or take about 2 inches depending on the brand. To the casual fan the heights will not matter. To those who have been watching the game their whole life, it is a breath of fresh air to be able to know the real height of players so you can analytically dive into why player x has a advantage over player y. Ultimately, the NBA’s decision to list actual heights was a good idea. It would also be nice if they could go back and list the heights of past players.

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Jared

I am an avid football and basketball fan following the two sports for the last 25 years.

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