In order to play in the NBA, one of the first requirements is that you are either incredibly tall or incredibly skilled. It would be best if you had both of these attributes. There is a popular saying that goes "you can't teach height" and if you are incredibly tall this is the biggest advantage you have against the competition.
Genes are definitely a big factor in this story and there is a higher chance for a player to be a great athlete if his parents were tall and into sports at one point in their lives. However, there were incredible examples in the NBA history of players who were physically gifted and great athletes who had parents or entire family members who were average or below average in height. These players definitely won the gene lottery.
1. Michael Jordan
Michael was listed at 6'6" even though many claimed he was closer to 6'5", however, nobody in his family came close to even 6 feet. His father was listed at 5'9" while his mom was around 5'5". Michael's brother Larry was also a great ball player but he only stood at around 5'8". Michael often said his brother was one of his toughest opponents and believed he would have made it to the NBA if he had more inches on him.
2. Moses Malone
The three-time MVP stood at 6'10" and was one of the best offensive rebounders of all time. However, his example is perhaps the most interesting one on this list. Malone's parents were really small, his dad was listed at 5'6 and his mom was at 5'2". Despite being a towering figure there was one gene he picked up from his parents and those were his hands. Moses had incredibly small hands for someone who was almost seven feet tall, but that didn't stop him to become one of the best rebounders and centers of all time.
3. Boban Marjanovic
Boban is one of the tallest players in the league standing at 7'3" and weighing in at around 290 pounds. A journalist recently found out his parent's height after an interview with Marjanovic. It was determined his dad is 5'9" while his mom is at around 5'6" which is a pretty average height. It's also worth noting that Boban displays hallmarks of acromegaly or what is commonly referred to as gigantism. It results from excessive growth hormone after the growth plates have closed. The facial features of a person with acromegaly are as follow pretty recognizable because their cheekbones are pronounced, the forehead bulges, the jaw is enlarged, and facial lines are prominent.
4. Tacko Fall
Tacko stands at an impressive 7'7" and is one of the tallest players in the world at this moment. He is also an interesting case because his parents are of average height. His mom is 5'8" and his dad is around 6'0". There is definitely a gene for being tall in his family because his younger brother Fallou was listed at around 5'9" at the age of 7 and he also has a pair of uncles who are 6'8". Tacko even learned how to make sandals out of animal skins so he can easily accommodate his 22 shoe size.
5. Wilt Chamberlain
Wilt's case is also a very peculiar one especially since his mom Olivia Johnson was actually taller than his dad who was 5'8". Wilt's mom was one inch taller than his dad. Wilt's grandfather on his maternal side was a farmer who was close to seven feet, which is where Wilt picked up good genes for basketball. Wilt's brother Welbert Chamberlain was also pretty tall standing at 6'5" but he never played organized basketball.