When we remember the little man throughout the NBA history we almost exclusively put the names such as Spud Webb, Muggsy Bogues and Earl Boykins on the top of that list.
However, during the tenure of Webb and Bogues in the ‘land of the giants’, surprisingly, there was another short guy out there on a mission to prove the critics wrong. The one who didn’t have Webb’s extraordinary leaping ability or Bogues’ explosive quickness and quick hands.
What relatively diminutive 5’7” Greg Grant had to beat the odds and prove that he could actually successfully play in the ‘land of the giants’ was clear and focused mind and above all – brave heart! Grant had an unpleasant early life journey – growing up in a broken home, he had to work in a fish market while in high school.
He showed the flashes of brilliance at the college level starring for a college Trenton State (New Jersey) in NCAA Division III. In his last season (1988-89) lightning-quick point guard led all NCAA Division III scorers with an average of 32.6 points per game while leading Trenton State squad all the way to 1989 NCAA Division III championship game.
But, similar as before he came to a college level, Grant had to face the prejudice from the majority of NBA scouts who were shy to tell their teams about his unique skill set.
At that point, no one really had the slightest idea that Grant will make a seven-year stint in the NBA!
He was eventually drafted by the Phoenix Suns with the 52nd overall pick in the 1989 NBA draft. Suns head coach Cotton Fitzsimmons immediately gave him a chance to back-up the rising star of the rapidly improving team, Kevin Johnson. The rookie from Trenton responded with 3.1 points and 2.5 dimes per game for the Western Conference finalists.
“He’s a nice little player. He’s basically still learning this game, feeling his way around the league, but at the same time, he isn’t intimidated by anyone.” – Cotton Fitzsimmons, 1990.
source: “Long Shot Earns Spot On Pro Basketball Team”, Vincent M.Mallozzi, The New York Times, 1990
Before the 1990-91 NBA season Grant traded hot Arizona with metropolitan New York but had to wait for his turn to enter the game behind the likes of Mark Jackson and Maurice Cheeks.
After opening the 1991-92 season in Charlotte Hornets uniform, Grant found his place in the rotation of 1991-92 Philadelphia 76ers led by superstar forward Charles Barkley. That season in Grant averaged 4.1 points and 3.6 assists while shooting 38.9 from the three-point territory. Next year, Grant had another productive season for Philly.
He spent the 1993-94 season in CBA before joining Denver Nuggets for 1994-95 season. Next season (1995-96) was his last in his seven-year-long NBA career during which he changed six teams.
Trenton, New Jersey, has always been a home for Grant – it’s where he now hosts an annual basketball camp for kids.
Murray A. a.k.a. Marjan Crnogaj is a BN contributor and the co-author of the Amazon.com TOP 100 basketball biography ‘Drazen – The Years of the Dragon’ (‘Drazen – Godine Zmaja’) which reveals the yet untold details from the life and career of the legendary NBA shooting guard Drazen Petrovic. He resides in Zagreb, Croatia, currently working on his third book which tells the untold story of the 1989 Green Card Five.