Manute Bol – 7 feet 6.75 inches (230.51 cm)
Manute Bol (born October 16, 1962. Died June 19 2010) was a Sudanese-born basketball player and activist. Until the debut of Gheorghe Muresan, Bol was undisputedly the tallest player ever to appear in the National Basketball Association. Manute Bol was believed to have been born on October 16, 1962 in either Turalei, Twic State. He was the son of a Dinka tribal chief, who gave him the name “Manute,” which means “special blessing.” Manute Bol was 7 ft 6.75 in (2.30.51 m) and 225 lb (102 kg).
Manute Bol – Basketball career
He started playing basketball in 1978 and played in the Sudan for several years with teams in Wau and Khartoum. A coach from Fairleigh Dickinson University saw Bol play basketball in Khartoum and convinced him to come to the United States. Bol was drafted by the San Diego Clippers in the 5th round of the 1983 NBA Draft, but the league ruled that Bol had not been eligible for the draft and declared the pick invalid. He was then invited to Cleveland by Cleveland State University head basketball coach Kevin Mackey. While in Cleveland, he attended English language classes for several months at ELS Language Centers on the Case Western Reserve University campus. Although Manute Bol never played for Cleveland State, its basketball program was placed on probation for two years as the result of providing improper financial assistance to Bol and two other African basketball players. The Tallest Man Fact 5 Lacking a strong command of written English reduced his chances of being eligible to play Division I basketball. He enrolled at the University of Bridgeport, a Division II basketball school, and played college basketball there during the 1984-1985 season.
In 1985 he was drafted in the second round by the Washington Bullets. He played in the NBA for ten years, from 1985-1995, spending parts of four seasons with the Bullets, parts of three with the Golden State Warriors, parts of four with the Philadelphia 76ers and part of one season with the Miami Heat. In 1987, the Washington Bullets drafted the 5 ft 3 in (1.60 m) point guard Muggsy Bogues, pairing the tallest and shortest players in league history on the court for one season.
Due to his height and extremely long limbs, Manute Bol was one of the league’s most imposing defensive presences, blocking shots at an unprecedented rate. He blocked 397 shots during the 1985-1986 season, a rookie record. Bol tied for the NBA record for the most blocked shots in one half (eleven) and in one quarter (eight, twice), and he holds the all time NBA record for most blocked shots per minute, (.176). In a game against the Orlando Magic, he blocked four consecutive shots within a single possession. However, his other basketball skills were very limited, and his rail-thin physique made it difficult for him to establish position against the league’s physical centers and power forwards. The sight of the tall, gangly Bol spotting up for a three-pointer during blow-outs became a fan favorite. Off the court, Manute established a reputation as a practical joker; Charles Barkley, a frequent victim of his pranks, attested to Bol’s sense of humor. Bol also developed a close friendship with teammate Chris Mullin.
Over the course of his career, Bol averaged 2.6 points, 4.2 rebounds, 0.3 assists and 3.3 blocks per game while only playing an average of 18.7 minutes per game. A true specialist, Bol finished his career with totals of 1,599 points, 2,647 rebounds, and 2,086 blocks, having appeared in 624 games over 10 seasons. As of 2007, Manute Bol remains:
Second in career blocks-per-game average (3.34), trailing only Mark Eaton.
Fourteenth in total blocked shots (2,086).
The only player in NBA history to block more shots than he has made, blocking 2,000 shots without also scoring at least 4,000 points.
After the end of his NBA career, Bol played 22 games for the Florida Beach Dogs of the Continental Basketball Association during the 1995-1996 season. In 1996, the Portland (Maine) Mountain Cats of the United States Basketball League announced that he would be playing with the team, and included him in the game program, but he never actually appeared in uniform. He then played professionally in Italy and Qatar before rheumatism forced him to retire permanently.
Manute Bol – Breakdown of NBA stints and highlights
Bol’s first tenure with the Bullets lasted for three seasons from 1985 to 1988. In his rookie season, Bol appeared in 80 games and recorded a career-high 5.0 blocks per game.
Golden State Warriors
Bol’s first tenure with the Golden State Warriors lasted for two seasons from 1988 to 1990. It was his first season in Golden State that Bol first attempted to shoot three pointers with regularity. In that season, he shot a career-high 91 three pointers and made 20 of them.
Bol’s first tenure with the Philadelphia 76ers lasted for three seasons from 1990 to 1993. Although he played in a career-high 82 games in his first season in with the 76ers, it was also in Philadelphia that Bol’s production as a player began to decline (in terms of both games played and per game statistics). After playing in all 82 games in 1990-1991, he played in 71 games the next season, and in 58 (a career low at the time) games the following season. During Bol’s last season in Philadelphia, Bol enjoyed a memorable night while playing against former teammate Charles Barkley and the Phoenix Suns. Bol hit 6 of 12 three pointers all in the 2nd half, albeit in a losing effort, against the Suns. Fans have been known to yell out “shoot” as soon as Bol touches the ball when he is far from the basket.
Bol played in eight games in the 1993-1994 season with the Miami Heat. The Heat were the only team for whom Bol played which did not feature him in its starting lineup. He scored only a two-point field goal with the team and blocked 6 shots in 61 total minutes.
Washington Bullets (2nd stint)
Bol’s second stint with the Bullets lasted only two games in the 1993-1994 season. There, he was signed not to play in games, but instead to help with the development of fellow 7 ft 7 teammate Gheorghe Muresan.
Philadelphia 76ers (2nd stint)
Bol’s second stint with the 76ers lasted for four games near the end of the 1993-1994 season. There, he helped to mentor 7 ft 6 in teammate Shawn Bradley. In only 49 minutes, he played more aggressively than he did earlier in the season with Miami and Washington. He scored 6 points, grabbed 6 rebounds, and blocked 9 shots.
Golden State Warriors (2nd stint)
Bol’s final NBA stop was with the 1994-1995 Warriors. Bol wearing a No 1 Jersey (he had worn No 10 with the Bullets and earlier stint with the Warriors and No 11 with the Sixers) made the season opening roster and played in what would be his five final NBA games. (It is known that Bol chose the # 1 jersey to establish himself as the most dominant rebounder and shot-blocker in the NBA). On a memorable night in the middle of November, Bol finally made his home debut, coming off of the bench to play 29 minutes against the Minnesota Timberwolves. He intimidated and blocked his usual shots and grabbed his usual rebounds. That night, however, served as a “blast from the past” as Bol was back to shooting three pointers like he did in the late-1980s. In that game, Bol connected on all three of the three pointers that he took (each was shot several steps beyond the three point line). The crowd, in disbelief, cheered louder and louder with each shot he took. Seven nights later in Charlotte, on a game that was nationally televised by TNT, Bol was in the starting line-up again. By this time, two weeks into the season, Bol’s career seemed to be rejuvenated under head coach Don Nelson in Golden State–he was again a defensive force, making threes, and contributing as a starter to create match-up problems. Unfortunately, after playing in only ten minutes against the Hornets on November 22, 1994, Bol suffered what proved to be a career ending injury and never played in the NBA again. Before he left his final game, he recorded a block and two points, but, fittingly, managed to unload a three point attempt in the limited minutes.
Manute Bol – Career after basketball
Bol was very active in charitable causes throughout his NBA career investing his money into helping people in need. Like many players before and after him, Bol took a considerable portion of his earnings and gave back to the community in numerous ways. Most notably supporting various causes related to his war-ravaged nation of birth, Sudan. Investing was an option that he could have taken with his finances, but rather than dealing with banking institutions Bol wanted to help his fellow people in a serious time of need. Leaving the money markets to Fisher Investments Bol would often travel to Sudanese refugee camps, where he was treated like royalty. In 2001 Bol was offered a post as minister of sport by the Sudanese government. Bol, who is Christian, refused because one of the pre-conditions was converting to Islam. Later Bol was hindered from leaving the country by the Sudanese government, who accused him of supporting the Dinka-led Christian rebels, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army. The Sudanese government refused to grant him an exit visa unless he came back with more money. Assistance by supporters in the United States, including Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman, raised money to provide Bol with plane tickets to Cairo, Egypt. After 6 months of negotiations with U.S. consulate officials regarding refugee status, Bol and his family were finally able to leave Egypt and return to the United States.
Bol established the Ring True Foundation in order to continue fundraising for Sudanese refugees. He has given most of his fortune (an estimated $3.5 million) to their cause. In 2002, Fox TV agreed to broadcast the telephone number of his Ring True Foundation in exchange for Bol’s agreement to appear on their Celebrity Boxing show. After the referee goaded, “If you guys don’t box, you won’t get paid,” he scored a third-round victory over former football player William “The Refrigerator” Perry. Later that year, Bol signed a one-day contract with the Indianapolis Ice of the Central Hockey League to raise money for the Sudanese, and also had a brief stint as a horse jockey for similar reasons.
In July 2004, Bol was seriously injured in a car accident, breaking his neck when the taxi he was riding in hit a guardrail and overturned.
In April 2005, he appeared for a ceremonial tip-off at a Chicago Bulls basketball game.
More recently, Bol has been involved in the April 2006 Sudan Freedom Walk, a three-week march from the United Nations building in New York to the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.. The event was organized by Simon Deng, a former Sudanese swimming champion (currently a lifeguard at Coney Island) who is a longtime friend of Bol. Deng, who was a slave for three years from the age of nine, is from another tribe in Southern Sudan. His Sudan Freedom Walk is especially aimed at finding a solution to the genocide in Darfur (western Sudan), but it also seeks to raise awareness of the modern day slavery and human rights abuses throughout Sudan. Bol spoke in New York at the start of the Walk, and in Philadelphia at a rally organized by former hunger striker Nathan Kleinman.
During his time in Egypt, Bol ran a basketball school in Cairo. One of his pupils was fellow Sudanese refugee and current Chicago Bulls player Luol Deng, the son of a former Sudanese cabinet minister. Deng later moved to the United States to further his basketball career, continuing a close relationship with Bol.
Manute was the “Brand Ambassador” for Ethiopian Airlines and Ethiopian Airlines Journeys.
Manute Bol – Death
On 18 May 2010 Manute Bol was hospitalized for severe skin and kidney problems.
Manute Bol died Saturday 19 June 2010 at the University of Virginia Medical Center in Charlottesville. He was 47 and lived in Olathe, Kan. The cause was severe kidney trouble and complications of a rare skin disorder known as Stevens-Johnson syndrome, said Tom Prichard, who runs Sudan Sunrise, a foundation that is building a school near Bol’s birthplace in Turalei. Bol had been hospitalized since late 18 May when he fell ill during a layover on a trip home from Sudan. Bol is survived by 10 children, including four with his second wife, Ajok, of Olathe, Kan.