In an era of small ball and faux big men, there still roams a dinosaur—and he can dunk without leaving the ground!
Like the story Gulliver’s Travels, Paul Sturgess hails from Merrie Olde England and is very, very tall. Commonly billed as being 7’8”, Sturgess is actually a little shorter than that. According to The Telegraph, the tallest man in professional basketball was measured at 7’7.26” on Guinness World Records day.
By comparison, Yao Ming and Shawn Bradley were each 7’6”, while Manute Bol and Romanian big man Gheorge Muresan stood 7'7". Sturgess is even bigger than that—a giant in a giant-less time.
Before we go any further, let’s get right to the flat-footed dunking.
As you can see from the video, Sturgess actually does get about an inch or two of lift in this particular dunk, but he doesn’t have to. Do you see his feet, clearly on the ground as he “hangs” from the rim?
Sturgess, who used the moniker “Tiny” while with the Harlem Globetrotters, is currently playing in the NBA Development League with the Texas Legends. Seth Rosenthal for SB Nation recently authored a definitive work on the British big man, explaining the current move away from size in the NBA:
The NBA's tallest player is Hasheem Thabeet, who stands at a downright shrimpy 7'3. That change could be a combination of several factors — post-Yao realizations that human legs can only propel so much size, the evolution of the game, or even just a dearth of truly gigantic young men.
In fact, positionless basketball is all the rage now. The trend has even taken over the All-Star Game, where you won’t see a legitimate starting center for either side this year.
Could Sturgess actually make an impact in today’s NBA? It’s highly doubtful—he doesn’t seem to be able to run very well, and his shooting is atrocious. Still, he stands in the way like a veritable wall and can box out a little.
Ultimately, the tale of the tape becomes a rather small matter when compared to Sturgess’s actual stats. Through eight games with the Legends, Sturgess has averaged just 0.8 points and 0.8 rebounds in 3.1 minutes per game.
He does manage to get extended minutes every now and then, however, as evidenced by tape of the Legends versus the Erie BayHawks.
At the end of the day, Sturgess knows who he is and what he is—not an NBA talent, but a guy who’s making a living and having a pretty good time doing it.
During a taped interview with Jacob Osterhout for The New York Daily News, the world's tallest pro basketball player put it all in perspective: “I’m not built for this world, but I’ve adapted to it and I’m using my height for a great thing. It’s a great icebreaker, meeting people.”
Basketball is ever changing—a smaller, faster, more athletic style is in vogue at present. The days of back-to-the-basket, dominant shot-blocking giants could return at some point, but Sturgess won’t be leading the charge.
We know that, and he probably knows it as well. And that’s okay. We’ll always have the man who could dunk without jumping.