Muggsy Bogues: How Fearlessness and Vision Led to NBA Greatness

Muggsy Bogues: How Fearlessness and Vision Led to NBA Greatness

Allison Kugel: During your time with the Charlotte Hornets, you and Dell Curry became as close as family, and your kids grew up together. You knew Seth and Steph Curry from the time they were toddlers. 

Muggsy Bogues: Yes. Our families grew up with one another. It was the Currys and the Bogues.  Dell and I played eleven years with each other throughout my fourteen years in the NBA; nine in Charlotte and two in Toronto. Stephen and our kids grew up being around the game. Stephen and Seth were like little sponges, soaking up all that information. I recall a video they have of me giving Stephen a little airplane ride in our locker room when he was small. He was just such a joy, he and Seth, both. No one even knew they would turn out to be the type of players they are today, even in high school. They were so scrawny, skinny and small. They were compared to me. [At the time] they were just a little taller, but slender. No one even gave them the credit, but to see them now and see how they transformed, not only on the court, but off the court. I’m so proud of the both of them. 

Alison Kugel: Did Stephen look up to you, because he saw you as also not having the typical stature of a basketball player? I read that he was only 5’6” in high school and with a narrow build. Did he look to you as an example of somebody who could succeed in the game, not having that traditional large player build?  

Muggsy Bogues: Yes, he did. He looked up to me early on. He had seen that a guy who was 5’3” was out there having success, and that is something he always hung his hat on. He always said that I was one of his favorite players so that always gave me little chills, knowing that. For a kid like that to be around me for that length of time and seeing me able to navigate through all of the nonsense that was being said; it allowed him to see it firsthand. He always alluded to that. For him and Seth, both, to be able to not hear or believe that [negative] noise that they were hearing about themselves, and staying on that path, I’m just loving what I’m witnessing to this day.  

Allison Kugel: There is a moment between you and Michael Jordan during the 1995 playoffs that is talked about a lot. There are images of you trying to guard him and him taunting you by holding the ball up high so you couldn’t get it. He’s trash talking you and all of that stuff. Do you think he was actually thrown off his game, because he couldn’t play the way he would normally play when he was playing against you?

Muggsy Bogues: Absolutely. That is exactly right, and that is why Michael, as you listen to one of his interviews, he says he always had trouble playing against the smaller guys like myself, Damon Stoudamire, Allen Iverson, and Rod Strickland, because when you are smaller the ball is closer to you. When the guy is dribbling the basketball, they have to dribble on the ground. Having that understanding, I understood how to play close to the ground and how to affect them down low; how to make them think about their dribbles because that is where it all starts. I used to time the guys’ dribbles, because once the ball goes down, they can’t stop it. That is when I used to shoot the gap and steal it quite a bit. That wears them down, and it’s like, “Man, he’s a pest.” When you play against the best and you have success against the best, then you will now be included with the best.  

Allison Kugel: Then in 1996, you were cast in Michael’s now classic movie, Space Jam.  There were only five other NBA players cast opposite Michael in that movie. Did he do the casting, or was it a production decision to put you in the movie?

Space Jam

Muggsy Bogues: We all had the same agent. Myself, Patrick Ewing, Michael, as well as Shawn Bradley. David Falk was our agent. Believe it or not, I had surgery during the shooting of the movie. I didn’t think I was going to be in it, but they had me come and read my lines anyway, and I think they had Tim Hardaway in mind as well. You can see me kind of acting like I was walking, and they had me where my shoulders were just moving and they made it look like I was walking.

Allison Kugel: Are there any guys in the league you wish you could have had the experience of being on the same team with, but never had the opportunity?

Muggsy Bogues: I think a guy like Michael [Jordan]. I would have loved to play with Michael as a teammate.  Having him on that wing, and his ability, and all the things he could do. That would have been fun for me.  

Allison Kugel: I’m assuming your relationship with him kind of smoothed over as time went on?

Muggsy Bogues: It has always been a great relationship. We never had it where it took a dive in terms of the negativity. We have always been pretty good friends and competitors, going all the way back from college days.  

Allison Kugel: You have a very unique situation, because you married your wife, Kim, twice. What’s different the second time around?  

Muggsy Bogues: I’m smarter the second time around. We were young when me got married the first time. I was 24 and she was 22. We had our first kid, and then my oldest daughter had moved in with us, and then we had my son. Suddenly, we had three kids and it was like she was thrust upon three kids within one year, and that was a challenge for us. I always loved her. She is the mother of my kids, and it’s very fortunate for us to be able to do it the second time with the same person, and to be able to do it again and do it the right way. This is more special, and especially for the kids, that we found our way back to one another. It makes the family that much more whole. I’m grateful that I have a second opportunity with her, because that’s how it should always be when you walk down the aisle and give that testimony to the man upstairs.  

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