For Day 77 of our 100 Days of Hoops, we look up at one of the most inspiring stars the league has seen, Slenderma-I mean, Manute Bol stands at 7’7 representing South Sudan.
In his early life, he tended cattle, killed a lion (in its sleep) and played soccer nonstop. Bol didn’t pick up basketball as his main sport until he was 15 years old. Bol played for the Sudanese National team and worked under the military. When he played at Khartoum, college basketball coach Don Feeley saw Bol play and convinced him to go to the United States.
Bol was drafted in the fifth round of the 1985 NBA draft by the Washington Bullets. He is the tallest player to ever play in the NBA. In a New York Times interview after the draft, Bol told a reporter his mother was 6’10, his sister 6’8 and great grandfather a skyscraper 7’10.
In his rookie season, he earned all-defensive 2nd team honors, led the league in blocks and took the Bullets to the playoffs. He averaged five blocks in his rookie season in 26 minutes per game. In his first playoff game, he recorded four points and nine blocks.
Bol has several nicknames like the Dinka-Dunker, The Iron Bull and Nute. His name in Dinka means “Special Blessing”. He is second all-time in blocked shots per game and the only player to block more shots than points scored. Bol also has the Philelphia 76ers record for most three pointers made in a half after a stunning long-range performance in Phoenix.
Bol retired from the NBA with the Golden State Warriors in 1995. Bol was also known for his charitable efforts off the court, he started the Ring True Foundation and gave most of his NBA earnings to the cause for Sudanese refugees affected by the genocide in South Sudan.
He passed away on June 19, 2010 but his legacy lives on. Bol’s charitable impact continues to this day and his son, Bol Bol is a five-star high school recruit from Santa Ana, California.