There is tall and then there are the outliers of those few in the world over 7 feet tall, sometimes referred to as one who is a “7-footer.” The very title indicates the height of 7 feet or over as extremely rare. It’s not like anyone who 6’8’’ is called a 6-footer. According to a Sports Illustrated estimate, there are fewer than 70 American men between the ages of 20 and 40 that are 7 feet or taller. Sports Illustrated goes on to say the probability of an American between the height 6’6’’ and 6’8’’ of being an NBA player is .07%. However, for an American who is 7 feet or taller, the probability of being an NBA player shoots up to 17%.
So, what is life like for the super tall? The retired NBA Jazz center, Mark Eaton who is 7’4’’, said, “For us, there is no fading in the mist.” He and other former basketball players over 7 feet explain there is no way to avoid the stares, the pictures and sometimes the rude questions. NBA’s all-time score leader Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (7’2’’) said, “People cold be very rude. Sometimes you get to the point where you don’t deal with people and you just don’t answer.”
When 7-foot-tall, Kevin Willis retired from the NBA, he started an extended-length clothing line that outfits many NBA players and other extra tall individuals. Sports Illustrated points out: “If you’re 6’5’’ locating clothes can be a trial. At 7 feet, you learn how acutely the world’s measurements have been altered by the laws of supply and demand.” Finding shoes can also be near impossible. Former Pacers Center Rik Smits (7’4’’) shares that he wore such tight shoes as a teenager that he developed painful nerve damage in his feet.
There are other issues for those over 7 feet, particularly the stress on their feet, backs and knees. Todd MacCulloch, former 76ers and Nets center, once had a podiatrist describe his 7-foot height as “a Hummer body on Toyota Tercel feet.” While there are perks to being super tall, the 7-foot-tall club has many unique issues to deal with.
*Quotes taken from Sports Illustrated article “Larger Than Life.” For full article, click here: https://www.si.com/vault/2015/07/05/106084744/larger-than-real-life