Muggsy Bogues calls on Singapore youths to be resilient in chasing sporting dreams

muggsy-conferenceWhen he was five and living in one of Baltimore’s inner cities, a nosy Tyrone “Muggsy” Bogues was hit by a stray bullet after he found himself caught in a crossfire during an altercation between two men that had turned ugly.

The pellet is still lodged in his right arm, just above the elbow.

That close shave with death in 1970 ultimately turned him into a young man determined to succeed and knock down every seemingly insurmountable obstacle in his way.

The biggest bump in his pursuit of a professional career in the NBA was his 1.6m frame which stopped growing when he was 10.

He faced continuous rejection and even suffered insults for trying to break into the NBA despite showing that he could pass and dribble better than most aspirants.

Bogues triumphed in the end against the odds, and even though the shortest player in NBA history may not be among its top 100 all-time greats, he still became a star, and enjoyed a sterling career from 1988 to 1997 with the Charlotte Hornets.

It is this message of taking control of one’s destiny that the 48-year-old American had for Singapore athletes while here yesterday, to announce the staging of the inaugural NBA 3X competition at the Ngee Ann City Civic Plaza from June 21 to 23.

The event, organised in partnership with local firms HiVelocity and Black Dot, and with the backing of the Singapore Sports Council as a supporting partner, features Under-13 to Open categories for men and women.

There will also be basketball clinics, with a yet-to-be-named NBA star in attendance.

Only a handful of Asians, particularly Yao Ming, have crossed the Pacific to play in the NBA, but Bogues believes this can change. What it takes for those in the region, he added, is resilience and unshakeable confidence.

“Even for Singaporeans, so much has been said about size but if like me, you are unyielding in chasing your dreams, you can make it in any sport,” he said. “It starts with confidence, if you don’t have it, you ain’t going to put yourself in a situation that allows you to give a 100 percent effort to participate in something you are interested in doing.”

“I don’t care if it is soccer or any sport, if you don’t have confidence in yourself, it is very hard to allow someone to see your full potential. We all have a gift, we just have to recognise what that gift is.”

Height was not the only drawback that threatened to throw Bogues off the NBA route. When he was 12, his father was sent to jail for 20 years on drug charges.

As his mother struggled to feed her four children, Bogues pitched in by doing the household chores.

Still, the ball was never out of his sight — and without realising it, he developed dribbling skills while playing the ball with one hand and taking the trash bin out with the other.

But the road to the NBA remained dim until he landed a college scholarship. Even then, he missed out on several selection trials because of his size but kept pressing on until he made the team.

The exposure and favourable press reviews subsequently paved the way for him to be picked 12th overall in the 1987 NBA Draft.

Bogues added that the secret to staying the course in the face of extreme adversity is “to love yourself”.

“When you do, it makes it very difficult for the next person who comes along to try and break you down,” he said. “It allowed me to keep on my path. I knew who I was and no one could easily force me to do something else or play something else.”

“If I didn’t make it, I didn’t make it. But I was not going to allow someone else to say so. I was going to put myself through their fire and give 110 percent effort.”

Bogues is mostly remembered for the years he spent with the Charlotte Hornets. He averaged a double double during the 1993-94 NBA season with 10.8 ppg and 10.1 apg. The next season he was averaging career high 11.1 ppg.

Bogues appeared in total 889 NBA games (556 started), averaging 7.7 ppg, 7.6 apg and 2.6 rpg in 28.6 minutes on the court.



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