Top 20 Tallest NBA Players of All Time
As lovers and mad-respect holders for the game of basketball we look up to those players, some quite literally! Being tall seems to be automatically associated with the sport, and for good reason, but who’s the tallest?
And looking at numbers of height can be a little less impressive without having something to compare to, try using the online tool that allows you the fun of imputing people and objects to actually see how tall something or someone is.
Take a look at these top 20 tallest NBA players of all time, you may be surprised at the outcome and the background facts of these high and mighty players!
20. Swede Halbrook 7’3” (2.21 m)
Starting up our lengthy list is former NBA player, for the Philadelphia 76ers (at the time the team was called Syracuse Nationals), Harvey Wade Halbrook or otherwise called Swede.
Balling it up in college basketball at Oregon State and the Amateur Athletic Union, Swede eventually made his way to pro basketball and played a total of 143 games during 1960-1962. Due to personal reasons that Swede did not disclose to his coach or teammates, he would often go off the radar for weeks at a time. For this his NBA career was short lived, one of his jobs after the NBA was the world’s tallest clown at a circus.
I guess do what you love, and don’t be ashamed!
19. Hasheem Thabeet 7’3” (2.21 m)
Tanzanian born Hasheem Thabeet has played for quite a few teams, but the first team he ever played for was the Cypress Christian School in Houston, Texas.
After playing college basketball, the first NBA team Thabeet played for was the Memphis Grizzlies. In the years to follow he played for the Houston Rockets, Portland Trail Blazers, Oklahoma City Thunder, and then went on to play in the NBA G League.
For two consecutive years, 2008 and 2009, he was awarded the National Association of Basketball Coaches Defensive Player of the Year award.
18. Arvydas Sabonis 7’3” (2.21 m)
Center player Arvydas Sabonis has gained the humble title as one of the best European basketball players of all time, and it is well deserved!
Sabonis not only took part as a team member for the Portland Trail Blazers for 7 seasons, but he is also the proud winner of multiple Olympic medals. That’s correct, multiple! Along with playing for the NBA, he also played professional basketball in his home country Lithuania and Spain.
During Sabonis’s NBA career he scored a whopping total of 5,629 points.
17. Žydrūnas Ilgauskas 7’3” (2.21 m)
Žydrūnas Ilgauskas, otherwise known as Big Z, is comes from a Lithuanian and American background. This jump shot expert center player began his NBA career in 1996 after he spent some time playing for a professional basketball team in Lithuania.
From the years 1996 to 2010 he became a key team player for the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavalier team had so much respect for Big Z that they retired his jersey number, 11, from the team. And from 2010 to 2011 he played on the Miami Heat, retiring after the season’s end.
Big Z is also a 2-time winner of the NBA All-Star Game, in the years 2003 and 2005.
16. Randy Breuer 7’3” (2.21 m)
Retired Minnesota native Randy Breuer began his NBA journey as a center in 1983 for the Milwaukee Bucks until 1990. Breuer then went on to play for 3 other NBA teams, the Minnesota Timberwolves, Atlanta Hawks, and the Sacramento Kings until 1994. During his about decade long professional basketball career, he went on to play 681 games, scoring a total of 4,599 points and racking up 750 blocks.
A fun piece of trivia about this Midwestern basketball player is that during his high school basketball career he essentially guided his team to the state title 2 years in a row. Therefore, earning him the title of Minnesota Mr. Basketball.
15. Peter John Ramos 7’3.5” (2.22 m)
Not only was Peter John Ramos a pro basketball player, but he was also a pro wrestler; sometimes you have more than one sports calling, just ask Michael Jordan!
Unfortunately, Ramos had some very challenging times growing up, his family was without a father, and he was bullied for his height for by the crisp age of 14 he was breaking the 7’ mark. But then, something pretty cool happened. In a clothing store in New York City, he was acknowledged by a former basketball player named Santiago Gotay, who recommended him to a higher up and began his professional career and aspirations for basketball.
Ramos was a center position player for the Washington Wizards, playing a few times for their summer league, and for the NBA Development League. He was also a team player for the Puerto Rico National basketball team, making his team and home country proud by being awarded the All-Puerto Rican League Most Improved Player and the Puerto Rican League Most Valuable Player.
14. Priest Lauderdale 7’4” (2.24 m)
Chicago local Priest Lauderdale may have had a quick NBA career as a center for the Atlanta Hawks from 1996 to 1997, but basketball certainly didn’t halt in his life.
Lauderdale played pro basketball until around 2011, playing for around 9 different countries. His passion for basketball exceeds outside of the wooden court floors, as he is a avid supporter of the German non-profit organization Hoop-Camps.
13. Boban Marjanović 7’4” (2.24 m)
Born and raised in eastern Serbia, Boban Marjanović was up to the impressive height of 6’10.5” by the age of 16 despite his parents being of average height.
Marjanović played basketball in Serbia and other European counties up until 2015 when he began his NBA journey. He started playing for the San Antonio Spurs, and went onto being a team player for the Detroit Pistons, the Los Angeles Clippers, the Philadelphia 76ers, and presently for the Dallas Mavericks.
Fun fact, did you know Marjanović made a cameo in the wicked movie John Wick 3, as an assassin? That’s pretty rad!
12. Ralph Sampson 7’4” (2.24 m)
Virginia born Ralph Sampson was a center and power forward player for 4 NBA teams, the Houston Rockets, Golden State Warriors, Sacramento Kings, and the Washington Bullets, and Sampson also played for a Spanish pro team.
After his NBA career ended around 1992, he did a bit of coaching and was inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame.
11. Rik Smits 7’4” (2.24 m)
Here comes The Dunking Dutchman himself, Rik Smits of the Netherlands. This former NBA center player for the Indiana Pacers began his US pro basketball career in 1988 and ended it in the year 2000. Smits was so adored by fans that he was fan picked to be a part of the Pacers 40th anniversary team.
This basketball All-Star was actually a few seconds movie star as he was featured playing basketball during a scene in the movie Coming to America. And to make this fella even more interesting, after his career he began to collect vintage motocross motorcycles and race them in competitions. Smits even went on to build a track near his previous house in Indiana. How fun!
10. Mark Eaton 7’4” (2.24 m)
Breaking into our top 10 is California native Mark Eaton, who was a dedicated center player for the NBA team Utah Jazz from 1982 until 1994.
Eaton actually wasn’t playing basketball in his early college days; he was studying to be an auto mechanic. But after some persuasion from a coach at Cypress college, Eaton entered the basketball world.
And its destiny that he did, for the Utah Jazz was raised up to make it to the playoffs due to the hardworking player. In fact, by the time of his retirement he was in the 2nd ranking for NBA career blocks.
9. Sim Bhullar 7’5” (2.26 m)
Present day player Sim Bhullar is from Toronto, Ontario and former team player for the Sacramento Kings stands at a remarkable height of 7’5” tall. At the young age of 29 he has played for several other semi-league teams both in the US and overseas.
Bhullar’s parents moved from India to Canada before he was born, they both were a little above average height for their genders, but nothing could have prepared them for the shock of their son being over 7’ tall.
On a fun note, did you know one of Bhullar’s first jobs was at Dunkin’ Donuts? He sure is dunkin’ now!
8. Pavel Podkolzin 7’5” (2.26 m)
Center player Pavel Podkolzin played for a professional Russian and Italian basketball team, and later went on to be drafted by the Utah Jazz and traded to the Dallas Mavericks.
Podkolzin’s NBA career lasted from 2002 until 2006, and after his journey with the NBA he went back to playing basketball in Russia.
7. Chuck Nevitt 7’5” (2.26 m)
Colorado born baller Chuck Nevitt, has played as a giant center for the NBA teams the Houston Rockets, the Los Angeles Lakers, the Detroit Pistons, the Chicago Bulls, and the San Antonio Spurs. Nevitt’s NBA career went on from the years 1983 until 1994, and he also played some ball for a professional Italian team.
This fella was also referred to by the fun names of Chuck E. Cheese and Human Victor Cigar.
6. Yao Ming 7’6” (2.29 m)
The 6th president of the Chinese Basketball Association and a popular name in pro basketball, Yao Ming takes the 6thplace on our list. What a coincidence!
Beginning his professional basketball career in China, Ming eventually went on to play for the Houston Rockets in 2002 as a center until 2011. Ming had a very successful career as he played in 8 NBA All-Star games and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. His success also runs outside of the court as he was the featured subject of a documentary, and he is the co-author of a book.
He was widely loved by fans, and still holds a valuable place in the sport of basketball.
5. Shawn Bradley 7’6” (2.29 m)
Here comes the renowned Stormin’ Mormon, Shawn Paul Bradley coming in at a giant 7’6”! Bradley was technically born in Germany, for his family was stationed there, but he grew up in the state of Utah. Something neat about this pro is he holds citizenship in both countries!
Bradley played in a center position for the NBA from 1993 until 2005. He played for 3 different teams during his career, the Philadelphia 76ers, the New Jersey Nets, and the Dallas Mavericks.
Unfortunately, after his NBA career he was struck by a motorist while he was riding his bike and as a result became paralyzed. Bradley has since been in a wheelchair. On a brighter note, he did play a role in the original Space Jam movie and that will live on forever just like his other amazing accomplishments in basketball and charity work!
4. Slavko Vraneš 7’6” (2.29 m)
Slavko Vraneš is a Montenegrin/Serbian former basketball player who began his NBA career in 2003 with the New York Knicks after playing professional basketball for quite a few years in his home country and nearby counties.
Vraneš was later brought onto the NBA team the Portland Trailblazers until 2004 when he decided to go back to playing overseas. He continued to play basketball until 2018, and he has several awards under his belt including Eurocup Champion and 3-time Serbian Cup winner.
3. Tacko Fall 7’6” (2.29 m)
Moving to the US at 16, Elhadji Tacko Sereigne Diop Fall or Tacko Fall, was born in Dakar, Senegal and is currently playing as a center for the Cleveland Charge. Though his current team is in the NBA G League, he previously played on the Boston Celtics and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
As of present day, Fall is the tallest player running the courts in the NBA and he is also one of the tallest humans alive right now. Can you even imagine, what a title to hold!
Not only is Fall good on the court and exceptionally tall, but he is also incredibly smart! His academic bragging rights include placing in the 95th percentile on the SATs, being fluent in the English language in as little as 8 months and holding onto a 4.0 in high school. What a role model to look up to.
2. Manute Bol 7’7” (2.31 m)
Not only was he incredibly tall and had a love for basketball, Sudan born Manute Bol was also a Humanitarian and activist. In 1985 he joined the Washington Bullets NBA team. The center player didn’t stop there though, he also played for the NBA teams the Golden State Warriors, the Philadelphia 76ers, and the Miami Heat.
Impressively, though not surprisingly, Bol is the first and only NBA player who had more blocks than points scored at the end of their career when he decided to retire.
Bol had a love for basketball of course but advocating for human rights truly filled his large heart.
1. Gheorghe Muresan 7’7” (2.31 m)
Lastly, we have Romanian Valentine’s baby Gheorghe Muresan who is tied with the Manute Bol for being the tallest NBA player in history. Muresan played professional basketball in his home country and for a French league for several years until he was drafted into the NBA in 1993 by the Washington Bullets. It was during his time on that team that he earned the NBA award for Most Improved Player for his season in 1995-1996. Alas Muresan NBA career ended with the New Jersey Nets where he played 31 games. At the end of his career, he racked up a total of 3,020 points, and 455 blocks.
Outside of basketball Muresan started a program by the name of Giant Basketball Academy, where all children can learn the skills of the beloved sport. He is also an ambassador for the Washington Wizards, and even stared in a film alongside famous actor Billy Crystal called My Giant.
Surprised by some of the results, now you know even more about NBA history! Whether you played on the court or not, sometimes it’s fun just to get outside and shoot around a ball. Could you imagine yourself on a team of NBA players, playing a simple basketball game of Around the World, or just shooting around for fun? Who would be on your dream team, and how would that look? You can see for yourself online and think about which position you’d be playing. And being the water boy or girl doesn’t exactly count.
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