Toe to toe with Earl Boykins

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 11:53 AM ET

THE SUN LOBS A FEW QUESTIONS AT ... EARL BOYKINS

He has gone from curiosity to consistent contributor and, in turn, Earl Boykins is enjoying life in the NBA. There's no doubt the Denver Nuggets guard is difficult to miss. At 5-foot-5, 133 pounds, Boykins is the second-shortest player in NBA history after the 5-foot-3 Muggsy Bogues. While Boykins' role models naturally include Bogues and 5-foot-7 Spud Webb, Boykins has said he tried to pattern his game after Isiah Thomas.

SUN: How are you able to do what you do for your living with your lack of size?

BOYKINS: Oh man, that's a tough question. I think the biggest thing is I have been blessed with an incredible ability to play basketball. The Lord blessed me with exceptional basketball talent, and awareness of the game. I am just trying to make the most of it.

SUN: When did you know you could play pro basketball?

BOYKINS: When I was growing up I always felt that I could play with anyone. As I began to get older and got to high school, I was still able to play with the top guys in high school. In college, I was able to play, so I always believed I would play in the NBA.

SUN: You're playing against men who have such a size advantage. How much of a physical challenge is that?

BOYKINS: The biggest problem of any small guard is overcoming the perception that you are too small. That's the biggest thing, the prejudice against small players. I am no different than anyone else. When I came into the league, they didn't think I could play. It took me three or four years to get the opportunity. But I am just making the most of it now. That is the hardest thing, is overcoming the prejudice.

SUN: How proud of your accomplishments are you?

BOYKINS: I am proud of it, but at the same time I am also humbled by it. There are people who are out there who are like myself but they just didn't get the opportunity because of their height.

SUN: Who was the first person in the NBA to believe in you and give you a fair shot?

BOYKINS: The first GM who believed in me was Wayne Embry (with the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 1998-99 season). He was the very first guy who believed in my ability and gave me a shot in this league.

SUN: Are you now at a comfortable level as a player?

BOYKINS: I enjoy it but I always feel I have something to prove. I have to continue to get better and improve year in and year out.

SUN: Do you ever get tired of people asking you about your size?

BOYKINS: No, because I think people are intrigued by it. No matter where I go, I don't get tired of it because it is a compliment. People think players like me are a novelty. But now they talk about my ability and how I actually play the game.


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