Skip to main content

Muggsy Bogues Was With Reggie Lewis On The Court The Night He Collapsed During A Playoff Game: "It Was A Nightmare When We First Saw Him Fall. We Didn’t Know What Was Going On."

Muggsy Bogues Was With Reggie Lewis On The Court The Night He Collapsed During A Playoff Game: "It Was A Nightmare When We First Saw Him Fall. We Didn’t Know What Was Going On."

Muggsy Bogues is one of the most beloved NBA players of the 90s for being probably the most unique player the league ever saw. He stood at just 5'3" but was a regular starting point guard in the NBA for years, servicing that role for the playoff-contending Charlotte Hornets for years.

Bogues is one of the best playmakers the NBA has ever seen and a very gifted defensive player for being able to sneak up on taller guards for steals. He was once a high school basketball star for Dunbar High School in one of the best high school teams of the era. One of Bogues' co-stars was Reggie Lewis. They were drafted together in 1987, with Bogues going 12th to Charlotte and Lewis joining the Boston Celtics dynasty with the 22nd pick.

Lewis would be a very good pick for the Celtics, emerging into an All-Star by 1992. He joined Boston after their championship heyday so never won a ring with the team. He would, unfortunately, pass away from cardiac myopathy at the age of 27, a couple of months after the 1993 Playoffs.

In a playoff game against the Hornets, Lewis would collapse on the court after playing 13 minutes. He didn't get up for several seconds and when he eventually did, looked a little out of sorts. While he tried returning to the game later, he was pulled out for dizziness and shortness of breath. He had an explosive start that night, scoring 17 points to open the game. 

Bogues was on the court in that game and saw his close friend and high school teammate collapse in a very scary incident. While that night ended Lewis' NBA career, people weren't prepared for the news of Lewis passing away while playing basketball due to a cardiac arrest in July 1993.

Bogues was promoting his recent book Muggsy: My Life from a Kid in the Projects to the Godfather of Small Ball in an interview with HoopsHype and went into great detail of what happened during that Game 1 between Boston and Charlotte and how it felt to be on the court to experience his friend have a major health incident. 

Forty-five players from Baltimore made it to the NBA, including the late Reggie Lewis. You were with him on the court the night he collapsed during a playoff game.

MB: I had a very special relationship with him. When you have a childhood friend that was able to accomplish a lot of accolades as a teenager with a dream, a vision and possibly just wanted to change the trajectory of our families… You know, that’s where it all started. Then having the opportunity to make history with each other in 1987, then all three of us getting drafted in the first round [Bogues, Lewis and Reggie Williams], and then having an opportunity to play against him in the playoffs was another highlight. But unfortunately, he wasn’t able to play that series because of this condition. It was a nightmare when we first saw him fall. We didn’t know what was going on. I thought he just tripped on the court but once we became aware of everything… [pause] It became devastating. (h/t HoopsHype)

Bogues was clearly affected by watching his friend die so young. Lewis was just entering his basketball prime and this was a devastating loss for the Celtics, which had lost coveted draft pick, Len Bias, the year before Lewis joined the team to a drug overdose. 

Muggsy had emerged through the basketball scene alongside Lewis, something that he recounts in his book. It narrates stories from his career and how it felt like to match up against players like Michael Jordan and John Stockton. It is full of fascinating tales about the world of basketball and how this diminutive force approached the game despite his height deficit. Steph Curry wrote the foreword to the book, with Bogues being close to the Curry family from the time Steph's dad, Dell, spent in Charlotte. 

Lewis is 1 of 2 Celtics players to get his jersey retired without ever winning a championship. What could have been for him in Boston is something we will never know after he was cruelly taken away from the game so early.