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Weird News

Dwarf Basketball Team Aims High

Jan 23, 2010 – 5:54 PM
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Buck Wolf

Buck Wolf Senior Correspondent

(Jan. 25) – When you play for the New York Towers – New York's all-dwarf basketball team – you hear this question a lot: Do you play on a regular-size court?

It's a question that irks some little people. Dwarfs don't drive miniature cars. They don't live in dollhouses. Why wouldn't they play basketball like everybody else?

"The concept itself is hard for some average-size people to think about – small people playing a big man's game," says Clinton Brown III, the team's 3-foot, 3-inch general manager.

"It just goes to show you that with a little bit of fortitude and heart you can accomplish what you desire."

Still, the Towers aren't just out to prove that they can put the ball through the hoop. With flashy stars like Jahmani Swanson and Justin Tompkins, they are trying to start a national Little NBA – a league that could provide halftime shows at NBA games.

"When you see the way we play, a lot of people are going to be taken by surprise," Brown says. "And, hopefully, it's going to inspire some people to get out there. Inside everybody is an athlete."

The Towers' tallest player is just 4-foot-8, but that doesn't mean they won't play an average-size team in an exhibition game. They recently challenged Albany radio station WPYX-FM to help raise money for dwarfs hoping to attend this summer's Little People of America convention in Nashville, Tenn.

"Basketball doesn't have a height requirement," says Swanson, a 4-foot-5, 24-year-old powerhouse from New York City with an explosive back-court game and a sharp outside shot.

"We've got people like Tiny Archibald to Nate Robinson who paved the way for people like us. It's not about your size, it's about your heart. You can do anything with your heart. Just follow it."

At 6-foot-1, the blazing-fast Nate "Tiny" Archibald scored 16,481 points in 14 seasons, primarily with the Kansas City Kings and Boston Celtics.

Much shorter players, like Muggsy Bogues (5-foot-7), Spud Webb (5-foot-7) and Damon "Mighty Mouse" Stoudamire (5-foot-10) also enjoyed distinguished careers and were little people by NBA standards.

Six-foot-tall Allen Iverson is the shortest player ever to win MVP honors.

"This is my first time playing with people my size," says Swanson. "I think learning to play with people much bigger than me made me a better player."

The Towers came together last July when several thousand dwarfs and their families gathered in Brooklyn for the annual Little People of America convention. As part of the weeklong festivities, LPs – as many dwarfs call themselves – compete in sporting events sponsored by the Dwarf Athletic Association of America.

Tall people might have a natural advantage at shooting hoops. But basketball is very popular among dwarfs.

"If you think about it, it's not surprising," says Brown. "Unlike other sports, a little person doesn't need special equipment [for basketball].

"I actually think it's actually the easiest sport for a little person to play. Even with a regular-sized ball and a regular-sized hoop."

High on Brown's to-do list is planning a game against the squad run by Matt Roloff, the star of TLC's "Little People, Big World."

"We can handle them, definitely," says Brown. "They might be a little nervous right now."
Filed under: Nation, Weird News, Only On Sphere

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