Gheorghe Muresan, at 7-foot-7 inches tall, briefly held the title of the tallest NBA
player. Muresan was born in Transylvania
in 1971 to average-sized parents; his great height results from a pituitary gland
condition. Muresan's professional basketball career began in France
in 1993. Prior to that he had played for the Romanian national team.
After a successful season in France, he came to the attention of the Washington Bullets, who drafted him with the 30th pick of the 1993 NBA draft. Muresan received little playing time in his first season. Then in the 1995 season, he made 58 starts at center, averaging 10 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks per game. Muresan continued to improve. In 1996, he made 76 starts and upped his averages to 14.5 points, 9.6 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks. He also shot an impressive 58 percent from the floor. Muresan seemed poised to become one of the league's elite centers, but regressed during the 1997 season, averaging only 10.6 points. Muresan made the playoffs for the only time in his career in 1997, and was a complete non-factor as the Chicago Bulls swept the Bullets out of the playoffs.
Muresan by then had a successful extracurricular career as well. He was a pitchman for Sprite, appearing in a hilarious fake ad for Gheorghe Muresan cologne, which apparently smelled like cabbage. He also had a movie career, appearing in the film My Giant with Billy Crystal. He was, of course, the giant.
Sadly, while filming My Giant, Muresan suffered an ankle injury that effectively ended his basketball career. He sat out the entire 1998 season, and most of 1999, before attempting a comeback with the New Jersey Nets. However, Muresan's skills had faded during the long layoff, and after appearing in only 30 games for the Nets in 2000 as a garbage time player, disappeared from the NBA completely.
Muresan was never a great NBA player. He was slow and unathletic, and was a poor defender who never blocked as many shots as a 7-foot-7 guy should. On offense, he was methodical but effective, shooting 57 percent for his career, mostly on moves around the basket. Muresan's frame was unable to withstand the constant pounding of the NBA. He was frequently injured and never played a full 82-game season. Also, for most of his time there, the Washington Bullets were a very bad team. It's unlikely Muresan would have had a very successful career with the Bulls or the Lakers.