Muggsy Bogues speaks on life and the game of basketball

Tyrone “Muggsy” Bogues

Muggsy Bogues speaks on life and the game of basketball
September 29
10:31 2020

Tyrone “Muggsy” Bogues spent nine years of his 14-year career as a member of the Charlotte Hornets. The Charlotte Hornets, in collaboration with Truliant Federal Credit Union, organized a Zoom call with Bogues as he spoke about his path on and off the basketball court.

Bogues, a Baltimore, Maryland native, played several sports growing up, but always had a special love for the game of basketball. While shorter than just about every player on the court, Bogues made a name for himself with his uncanny ability to steal the ball. His ability to “mug” his opponents defensively helped lead to his nickname.

“Growing up in the inner city, we were very active,” said Bogues. That was our Xbox and PS4 back then, being outdoors. We were on the court, we played football and I wrestled, but it was always something about basketball that made me gravitate towards it, mainly because of people telling me I shouldn’t play because of my size and that always got under my skin and I always wanted to prove people wrong.”

Bogues never looked at his lack of height as a detriment because he knew at a young age, he was not going to be tall.  

“I never really focused on trying to be taller, I just accepted who I was and I just learned the game to where I could be impactful, instead of a liability,” he said about his height.  

Bogues enjoyed a very successful high school career, playing alongside future NBA players such as David Wingate, Reggie Williams and Reggie Lewis, which enabled him to earn a scholarship to Wake Forest University in 1983.  He said Winston-Salem was nothing like he had ever seen in Baltimore.

“Being from the inner city, my environment was predominately Black culture and it was a culture shock going to Winston-Salem and being in a small city in a private school surrounded by a lot of white folks, which I wasn’t accustomed to,” he said. “It was the best decision in the world for me because it gave me an opportunity to grow. It gave me the opportunity to see a different part of the world.

“I learned at a great university, which was Wake Forest, and the institution really taught me how to be a man. My whole world just changed once I decided to go to Wake Forest and I am grateful that I made that decision.”

The opportunity to play in the ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference) was a big draw for Bogues. At that time, the conference boasted big names such as Michael Jordan, Len Bias, Ralph Sampson, Sam Perkins and Mark Price, just to name a few. The chance to measure his skills against some of the best players in the nation was too good to pass up for Bogues.

“Wake came at me and rolled out the red carpet and said I had the opportunity to play, especially my freshman year,” Bogues said. “The academic component really stood out to me, but the main reason was my parents could just turn on the TV and just watch it, without having to travel, and they knew every Saturday they could watch their baby play basketball.”

Playing against that tough competition in the ACC really prepared Bogues for the rigors of the NBA, he said. He said every night in ACC play, you were guaranteed to play against a tough guard, so he had to bring his A game every time he laced up.

Bogues always had the confidence to know he was capable of playing in the NBA. Once he was selected to represent the USA in the 1986 Goodwill Games in Spain, he was able to showcase his skills in front of NBA, which bolstered his draft position a year later.

“Coming back from winning the gold medal, I think it put some of the pro scouts on notice that I was for real,” he continued. “I was projected to go late first round, to where I wound up going twelfth overall.”

One of the first things Bogues noticed once he entered the NBA was the skill level that every player had.

“Once I got there, it was a man’s game and no longer a boy’s game,” Bogues continued. “I came in, in the late 80s, so it was a wake-up call for me during my first game, in the locker room watching the guys pop a beer at halftime and smoke a cigarette, which I wasn’t prepared for.”

Bogues was drafted by the Washington Bullets, now the Wizards, and was happy to play professional ball so close to home. After playing well as a rookie, he was drafted sixth overall in the 1988 expansion draft by the Charlotte Hornets. He was shocked at the news, but says the move to Charlotte was “a match made in heaven.”

“From the very first game, seeing the support of 24,000 fans screaming, knowing we lost by 40 points and they give us a standing ovation, you knew you were in a special place,” Bogues said with a smile. “From that moment on, I always considered Charlotte my home and I have been here for 30 years.”

Throughout his time in Charlotte, Bogues never thought he would have made the lasting impression on the city that he has. He also spoke fondly of the relationship he built with former Hornet Dell Curry over the years.

After leaving the game of basketball, Bogues had a couple of stints in the coaching realm, which included the Charlotte Sting, a former franchise in the WNBA. He has also written an autobiography, “In the Land of Giants,” which touches on his struggle of growing up in the inner city and achieving success in the NBA. He now spends a great deal of time and energy building his Muggsy Bogues Family Foundation.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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