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Breaking Down the Tallest NBA Players: Now & In Basketball History

Explore the fascinating stories behind these towering NBA players.

An illustration of Victor Wembanyama graces the cover image of our breakdown of the tallest players in the NBA
Credit-Getty/Joker Mag

Tall players in the NBA have always captured the imagination of fans. They stand head and shoulders above the rest, both in height and in their impact on the game. 

In today’s NBA, giants like Joel Embiid, Nikola Jokić, Kristaps Porziņģis and celebrated rookies like Victor Wembanyama amaze crowds with their towering presence.

The league’s history is also peppered with legendary figures like Wilt Chamberlain and Yao Ming, whose heights and capabilities made them true icons. 

These players transformed the game and served as symbols of the league’s diversity. But they also showed that height is just one element in the complex art of basketball.

We’ve already highlighted the shortest players in the NBA and the average height at each position group.

Now, it’s time to dig deep into the tallest players in the NBA – both in the present day and throughout the league’s rich history.

Manute Bol (7’7”)

Manute Bol resting his hands on his knees during a game for the Warriors: "At 7'7", Manute Bol is one of the tallest players in the history of the NBA."

Standing at an astonishing 7 feet 7 inches, Manute Bol was an iconic figure in the NBA. His extraordinary height made him one of the league’s tallest players. 

Bol was not just a towering presence; he possessed exceptional shot-blocking abilities, leading the league in blocks per game during multiple seasons. His contributions to his teams, including the Philadelphia 76ers and the Golden State Warriors, were instrumental in bolstering their defenses.

How effective was Bol at blocking shots? Accounts vary, but he is estimated to have averaged .179 blocks per minute throughout his career. He also averaged an astonishing 5.0 blocks during the 1985-86 season.

Gheorghe Mureșan (7’7”)

Gheorghe Muresan on learning how to play basketball: "I was very Weak and very, very uncoordinated...But I put a lot of heart into the game. I wanted to prove myself I could play at a high level."

Gheorghe Muresan was an NBA player of remarkable stature. At 7 feet 7 inches tall, he was one of the tallest players in the league’s history. 

Muresan’s skills were equally noteworthy, particularly as a shot-blocker and a reliable presence in the paint. Despite being sidelined by injuries, he won the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award in 1996.

Muresan’s towering presence and determination on the court left an indelible mark on the game. He proved that height combined with skill and perseverance can lead to gigantic accomplishments in basketball.

Tacko Fall (7’6”)

Tacko Fall stands at an impressive 7 feet 6 inches, making him a towering presence in the NBA. Along with his remarkable height, he possesses exceptional skills that have made him a standout player. 

Tacko’s shot-blocking ability and defensive prowess are particularly noteworthy, disrupting opponents with his extended reach. This has earned him a reputation as a formidable rim protector. 

Hailing from Senegal, Tacko Fall’s journey to the NBA is an accomplishment in itself.

He overcame significant odds with determination and hard work, making him an inspiration both on and off the court.

RELATED: How John Starks Went From Bagging Groceries To Dunking On Michael Jordan

Shawn Bradley (7’6”)

At 7 feet 6 inches tall, Shawn Bradley was a prominent figure in the NBA. His extraordinary height was a defining characteristic, and he used it to his advantage as a dominant shot-blocker and a defensive anchor for his teams. 

Bradley’s shot-blocking ability was legendary, and he consistently ranked among the league’s top shot-blockers during his career. Among his most notable accomplishments are being selected second overall in the 1993 NBA Draft and having a successful NBA career spanning over a decade. 

Shawn Bradley not only had a successful NBA career. He also made a notable transition to acting, appearing in films such as Space Jam and Blue Chips.

Yao Ming (7’6”)

Yao Ming is not only one of the tallest players in NBA history but also a player of extraordinary skill and achievement. Towering 7 feet 6 inches tall, he consistently managed to dominate in the post and protect the rim with ease.

Ming also earned a reputation as an intimidating shot-blocker, with a deft touch and scoring ability that made him a versatile offensive threat.

Among his outstanding accomplishments, Ming made the NBA All-Star selection eight times and the All-NBA Team five times. He also won the gold medal three times and earned the MVP title thrice at the FIBA Asia Championships.

Victor Wembanyama (7’4”)

Victor Wembanyama quote that says "The best players, for me, are not the ones who get thebest stats, but the ones who make their teammates better."

Towering at 7’4”, Victor Wembanyama is a basketball prodigy renowned for his exceptional height and extraordinary skills. An amazingly versatile player, his repertoire ranges from precise shooting to adept ball-handling. 

Wembanyama’s agility and shot-blocking prowess redefine the capabilities of a player of his height. Despite his young age, he has garnered global attention for his unique accomplishments, breaking barriers and setting new standards in the basketball world.

Wembanyama will undoubtedly continue breaking new ground as he develops, blending height with an impressive skill set.

Ralph Sampson (7’4”)

At 7 feet 4 inches tall, Ralph Sampson was a towering presence in basketball. His extraordinary height was matched by exceptional skills that made him a versatile player. 

He was a promising player even before he joined the NBA. Sampson is only one of two players in history to win the Naismith College Player of the Year award three times, the other being Bill Walton.

Sampson’s ability to score inside and outside the paint set him apart, earning him recognition as a dominant force in the NBA. He achieved significant milestones, including NBA All-Star selections and being the top pick in the 1983 NBA Draft.

Sampson’s influence extended beyond the court, leaving an indelible mark on the game. He proved that height, coupled with immense skill, can lead to a legacy of accomplishments in basketball.

Rik Smits (7’4”)

Rik Smits stands a towering 7 feet 4 inches. His remarkable height, combined with his basketball skills, made him a standout player. 

Smits was known for his ability to score in the post. His deft shooting touch and blinding footwork made him a reliable offensive force for the Indiana Pacers throughout his career.

His accomplishments included several NBA All-Star selections and helping lead the Pacers to multiple playoff appearances. A beloved figure in the team, he earned the nickname “The Dunking Dutchman” for his impressive scoring and dunking abilities.

Kristaps Porziņģis (7’3″)

Standing tall at 7 feet 3 inches, Kristaps Porziņģis is a towering figure in basketball. His extraordinary height is complemented by a unique blend of skills that set him apart from his peers.

Known for his impressive shooting range, Porziņģis can effortlessly score from beyond the arc and dominate in the paint. His ability to block shots and grab rebounds adds a dynamic defensive dimension to his game.

Porziņģis’ accomplishments include being named an NBA All-Star and contributing to various teams. He is the first Latvian player to be selected as an NBA All-Star, highlighting his impact as a skilled and versatile player.

Wilt Chamberlain (7’1”)

Wilt Chamberlain was a true basketball legend. Standing 7 feet 1 inch tall, his extraordinary height was complemented by unparalleled skill and unmatched accomplishments. 

Chamberlain’s scoring ability was nothing short of remarkable. He holds the astonishing record for scoring 100 points in a single game, a feat that remains unparalleled in the NBA.

Chamberlain’s numerous achievements include multiple NBA MVP awards, NBA championships, and a slew of scoring records. His towering presence, exceptional skill set, and unparalleled accomplishments have solidified his status as one of the greatest players in the history of the NBA.

Joel Embiid (7’0”)

At 7 feet tall, Joel Embiid is a formidable force in basketball. But his remarkable height is just one facet of his impressive skill set. 

Renowned for his post moves, scoring ability, and defensive prowess, Embiid is an elite shot-blocker and a reliable scoring option for his team.

He also brings a charismatic and entertaining personality to the game, engaging fans with a unique blend of on-court prowess and off-court charisma.

Embiid’s list of accomplishments is equally impressive, including multiple NBA All-Star selections and All-NBA Team honors. His impact on the Philadelphia 76ers and his ability to carry his team deep into the playoffs underscore his status as one of the league’s premier players.

More of the tallest players in NBA history:

  • Slavko Vraneš (7’6”)
  • Sim Bhullar (7’5”)
  • Chuck Nevitt (7’5”)
  • Pavel Podkolzin (7’5”)
  • Mark Eaton (7’4”)
  • Priest Lauderdale (7’4″)
  • Boban Marjanović (7’4″)
  • Zydrunas Ilgauskas (7’3″)
  • Arvydas Sabonis (7’3″)
  • Dikembe Mutombo (7’2″)
  • Bol Bol (7’2″)
  • Sam Bowie (7’1″)
  • Rudy Gobert (7’1″)
  • Pau Gasol (7’0″)

Check out more from our series breaking down the tallest players in every league:

  1. The Tallest NHL Players in Hockey History
  2. The Tallest NFL Players in Football History
  3. The Tallest WNBA Players Ever (And How They Match Up With the NBA)
Written By

Eric Pangburn is a former professional basketball player who has played in seven countries. His playing career is highlighted by a two-year stint in Germany and Mexico. Eric now spends his time coaching youth basketball and managing the basketball website, Infohoops.com.

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