Who is the tallest basketball player? In a league filled with giants, there are still players who stand out from the crowd. Top Draft prospect Victor Wembanyama is set to join a select group of players taller than 7-foot-4 to have played in the NBA. With his combination of size, dribbling and shooting, Wembanyama hopes to differentiate himself from many of the big men who came before him.
Before Wembanyama’s NBA career begins, here’s a look back at players taller than 7-foot-4 who have played more than 100 NBA games.
There is no denying that the history of the NBA is built on the backs of their big men. When the game was first introduced to the world, people were mystified to see seven-foot tall giants sprinting around the court and dominating the rim. If your favorite team is lucky enough to land a dominant center, it could jump start a championship run that could last for years!
Who is the tallest player in NBA history?
Gheorghe Muresan and Manute Bol are the tallest people to ever play in the NBA at 7-foot-7.
Tacko Fall, Yao Ming, Slavko Vranes and Shawn Bradley are just a smidge shorter at 7-foot-6. Chuck Nevitt, Pavel Podkolzin and Sim Bhullar are next in line at 7-foot-5.
At 7-foot-4, Wembanyama and Marjanovic are tied with Ralph Sampson, Mark Eaton, Rik Smits and Priest Lauderdale as the 10th-tallest players in NBA history.
Gheorghe Muresan — 7-foot-7
- NBA debut: 1993
- Games played: 307
Tied with Manute Bol as the tallest player in NBA history, Muresan played professionally in Romania before being drafted by the Washington Bullets with the 30th overall pick in the 1993 NBA Draft. While injuries derailed the prime of his career, he won the Most Improved Player award in 1995-96 with averages of 14.5 points, 9.6 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game. Outside of the NBA, Muresan gained fame in the 1998 film “My Giant” alongside actor Billy Crystal.
Manute Bol — 7-foot-7
- NBA debut: 1985
- Games played: 625
Bol traveled a unique route to the NBA, from Sudan to NCAA Division II school the University of Bridgeport to the then-Washington Bullets. The 31st pick of the 1985 NBA Draft made an immediate impact on defense. He led the NBA in blocks his rookie season with a career-high (and NBA rookie record) of 5.0 blocks per game. He was named to the All-NBA Defensive Team in 1985-86 and ranks second all-time for the highest career blocks per game average (3.34) over his 10 NBA seasons. Bol, who died in 2010 at 47, was a humanitarian and political activist focused on human rights in his native Sudan. His son, Bol Bol, currently plays for the Orlando Magic.
Shawn Bradley — 7-foot-6
- NBA debut: 1993
- Games played: 832
After a dominant collegiate season at BYU, Bradley was selected by the Philadelphia 76ers with the No. 2 overall pick in the 1993 NBA Draft. He made his mark on defense with an average of 3.4 blocks over his first five seasons in the NBA. Bradley played with the Sixers and Nets before joining the Dallas Mavericks, where he played the final eight-plus seasons of his career. Bradley retired with career averages of 8.1 ppg , 6.3 rpg and 2.5 bpg over 12 seasons. In 2021, Bradley was involved in a devastating cycling accident that left him paralyzed.
Yao Ming — 7-foot-6
- NBA debut: 2002
- Games played: 481
One of two No. 1 overall picks on this list, Yao was already a global sensation when he was selected by the Houston Rockets in 2002. He played five seasons professionally in China and won an MVP in 2001 before he made his way to the NBA, where his impact was felt immediately. He averaged 13.5 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.8 blocks during his rookie season and earned his first of eight straight All-Star team selections. Yao averaged 20-plus points for three straight seasons (2005-08) and retired with career averages of 19.0 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.9 blocks over his eight NBA seasons. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2016 and is currently the president of the Chinese Basketball Association.
Chuck Nevitt — 7-foot-5
- NBA debut: 1982
- Games played: 155
Nevitt played for five teams over nine NBA seasons after being selected by the Houston Rockets with the 63rd overall pick in the 1982 Draft. As a member of the 1985 Lakers, Nevitt is the tallest player in NBA history to win a championship.
Mark Eaton — 7-foot-4
- NBA debut: 1982
- Games played: 875
Despite being selected with the 72nd overall pick in the 1982 NBA Draft, Eaton developed into one of the most dominant defensive players of the decade. He won Defensive Player of the Year twice (1985, ’89) and was selected to five All-Defensive teams (1985-89) during his 11-year NBA career with the Utah Jazz. He’s the NBA’s all-time leader in blocks per game for a career (3.5) and single season (5.6 in 1984-85). The most durable player on this list, Eaton played 80-plus games in nine of his 11 seasons. He died in 2022 at the age of 64.
Rik Smits — 7-foot-4
- NBA debut: 1988
- Games played: 867
Born in the Netherlands, Smits played collegiately at Marist College before being selected by the Indiana Pacers with the second overall pick in the 1988 NBA Draft. Smits averaged double-digit points every season during his 12-season career, including a career-high 18.5 points on 52% shooting during the 1995-96 season. An All-Star in 1998, Smits retired in 2000 with career averages of 14.8 points (50.7 FG%), 6.1 rebounds and 1.3 blocks.
Ralph Sampson — 7-foot-4
- NBA debut: 1983
- Games played: 456
One of the most anticipated rookies in NBA history, Sampson was selected first overall by the Houston Rockets in 1983 after a legendary collegiate career at the University of Virginia. Sampson delivered on the hype in his first NBA season with averages of 21 ppg, 11.1 rpg and 2.4 bpg to win Rookie of the Year and earn his first of four straight All-Star selections. Although injuries hampered his career, he retired in 1992 with averages of 15.4 ppg, 8.8 rpg and 1.6 bpg over nine seasons. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2012.
Boban Marjanovic — 7-foot-4
- NBA debut: 2015
- Games played: 296
After a dominant professional career in Europe that included three Serbian league MVPs, Marjanovic joined the San Antonio Spurs in 2015 as an undrafted free agent. Since then, he’s carved out a bench role for himself on six teams over the past eight seasons. Like Muresan before him, Marjanovic gained additional fame through acting (“John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum”). Heading into the 2023-24 season, Marjanovic has career averages of 5.6 ppg and 3.6 rpg.
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