Basketball has long been a sport forbidden to the short. And in a way it still is. In lower categories, sometimes the height or possible development of a player is more important than talent, although players like Spud Webb, Muggsy Bogues or Earl Boykins have been in charge of sowing exceptions.
After all, to have a remarkable career in the NBA from a small stature you need to be a superclass, something that is available to very few, such as Isaiah Thomas last season. And even with everything, small players, always dependent on the explosiveness of their lower body, are very exposed to any injury depriving them of that sixth gear that makes them different.
However this means nothing to Jahmani Swanson, nicknamed Mani Love, or the ‘Michael Jordan of small people’. Swanson, 32, measures 1.30 meters with a type of achondroplasia or dwarfism, which has not prevented him from becoming a reference on the courts of New York, his city.
“If I was 1.55, I could have made it to the NBA. I’m better than many who play there,” Swanson said in an interview with Bleacher Report last year. Mani Love plays for the New York Towers, his hometown team of the Dwarf Athletic Association, a league where small-sized people play games of different sports. Although Swanson is a bit the same, because thanks to him his team has played exhibition matches against teams of normal-sized people that can be seen on YouTube.
Swanson’s secret to being so big when he is so small is simple: dedication and passion. “I grew up sleeping with a basketball instead of a teddy bear,” he said in the aforementioned interview. Now, keep doing his thing on any court where they require it, so don’t be surprised if you see a crossover made by a short man who will leave you with your mouth open. It is the work of Mani Love.