Are NBA Players` Parents Tall?

19 January 2022

It is undebatable that height does play a critical role in the selection and performance of NBA players. In fact, when scouting for an NBA player, the first criteria that need to be met is the height above 6.6 feet- the more the height the better chances of being selected. Many of the NBA players happen to be naturally tall, which means that the NBA player’s parents contribute to their exceptional height. However, apart from genetics, supplements for muscle and growth as well as exercises and regular training for years also ensure a player’s entry into the NBA or even professional basketball for that matter.

NBA Players’ Genetic Predisposition

To answer the question of whether NBA players’ parents are tall or not, the answer in most cases is yes, they are. These players are genetically predisposed to be tall without any external or added assistance. It has been found through a study that the role of genetics for the determination of the maximum height of an adult is about 60 to 95 percent. Moreover, the appropriate nutrition of an individual during childhood, as well as adolescence, also determines their maximum height in adulthood. This is because a sufficient amount of nutrition can help you achieve your genetic potential to the fullest, but no factor can make you go beyond your genetically predetermined height (maximum) [1]. This study proves that the extreme height of NBA players is mostly dependent on their parents’ heights, who in turn, have to be tall (in most cases).

The International Journal of Genomics (Hindawi) featured a study named, “Common DNA Variants Accurately Rank an Individual of Extreme Height”, in which a former NBA player, Shawn Bradley, with 7 feet 6 inches in height was genetically analyzed. Researchers concluded that height-related genetic characteristics of Shawn were combined rarely to make him stand out as the tallest when compared to others, in an experiment consisting of over1000 individuals [2]. This once again throws light on how efficient genes are when it comes to height determination, be it of NBA players or a layman.

Here is a nice challenge for you. Try to guess whose parents you can see in the video:

Over time sporting and scientific communities have come to terms with genes contributing to the performance of athletes. By 2009, it was clear through research that physical performance was affected by over 200 variants in the human genes, and among them over 20 were responsible for elite status in athletics [3]. While there haven’t been many studies to link athletic performance of adolescents/children and their genetic factors, genetic tests for finding such links to predict the athletic success of children in the future is growing common these days.

The ability to inherit genetic factors commonly provides an estimate of how important genes are. For instance, inheriting the athletic status (in any sporting activity) is found to be as much as 66 percent [4]. Similarly, the height of an athlete is also mostly inherited, and variation because of genetic factors can be estimated to be as much as 80 percent through studies [5].

The upcoming generation

With the first NBA player generation mostly tall, it can be predicted that the second generation will be even taller than their parents who are first-generation players. In fact, these second-generation players will form a unique league owing to their exceptional height. Clear examples include Bronny James Junior with over 6 feet in height in his teen years, and likely to become an NBA professional. Bol Bol, who is 7 feet tall, will also probably succeed his father, Manute Bol, soon.

The tall height of these to-be NBA players can be undoubtedly credited to their genes. But the extreme height of NBA players’ parents cannot single-handedly contribute to their tall height. Factors like proper and guided exercise and training, proper nutrition, and added supplements (if required) – all of these play a significant part growth of the NBA players, both male and female. Therefore, these studies and researches over the years indicate clearly that the parents of NBA players and others with extreme height do pass on their genes (which is critical in the determination of maximum height) to their offspring, which makes them exceptionally tall and ideal for participation in various sporting activities requiring greater height.