He was a part of the team that helped put the Charlotte Hornets on the map. Tyrone "Muggsy" Bogues who stands at just five feet three inches, is used to his height being something people talk about. He says the nickname came from growing up in the inner city of Baltimore Maryland. “I was 7 years old. Stealing the basketball, they said I was “muggin” everybody.”
Playing pickup basketball he was always overlooked. He heard “no”, “you can’t” and “you’re too little” all the time. It hurt, but it never stopped him. Bogues says he built his confidence by just being better than the rest. And it worked. In high school he was on a team that won the national title twice. That’s when he knew that he had the goods to go to a great university, even the NBA.
Bogues went to Wake Forest and then selected in 1987 as the 12th overall pick by the Washington Bullets. “It was the best day of my life. You know, besides being born.” His reputation as a lightning quick ball handler was building, and that’s what he said separated him from the other small guy in the league, Atlanta’s 5’7” Spud Webb. “We are small players but we have different styles and that’s what the makeup of the game is all about.”
The next year Bogues joined the new expansion team in Charlotte, the Hornets. “The very first year was so special. The expectation wasn’t much. It was that we were happy to have a team.” And the Coliseum set NBA records as the most attended NBA arena in their day. “24k screaming fans, 10k on the waiting list and it was very hard to get a Hornets ticket.” In addition to playing at the Coliseum, after a few years, the team had gotten stronger. “We had great guys on the team and you’re going to war with every day, I mean that’s one of the rarest, especially on the NBA level, that’s very rare.” Guys like Larry “Grandmamma” Johnson, Dell Curry, Alonzo Mourning and Kendall Gill.
The Hornets went through their share of growing pains that can be compared to what the Bobcats are going through. But Bogues it’s a simple formula of bringing in great players and getting community support that will make the difference. He says that Charlotte getting the Hornets name back should help with that.
The NBA has changed since Bogues played. “Fouls were a lot harder; a lot more physical. Going across the lane you were going to pay for it.” He says mostly because the rules have changed. With the NBA draft coming up “It’s not as strong of draft as it been in the past. But you still got some talented players in the draft.”
But since retiring, Bogues has been coaching. He had a stint as head coach for the now defunct WNBA Charlotte Sting. “Fred Whitfield had taken over. They came and asked if I’d be interested in taking over the women’s team. And I was kind of shocked because I never coached women.” But now, during the school year he coaches at United Faith Christian Academy in south Charlotte. For the past 23 years he’s had his Muggsy Bogues Fundamental Basketball camps in the summer time.
His passion is for young people. “I always want to give them some type of hope and inspiration that they can be whatever they want to be.” He’s also passionate about the one’s he loves. He says he will always love Baltimore for raising him, but Charlotte is where he calls home.
To stay up to date with Muggsy Bogues, visit his website www.muggsybogues.com