The Passing of Manute Bol… one of the NBA’s True Ambassadors

The Dr meets Manute Bol

A Great Ambassador leaves us….

One of the NBA’s most popular players, Manute Bol died on June 19, 2010 –  Bol died from acute kidney failure and complications from Stevens–Johnson syndrome at the University of Virginia Medical Center in Charlottesville, Virginia.[22] [20]

After his death, tributes to Mr. Bol’s basketball career and charitable works came from around the United States and the world.[23][24][25][26][27][28]

His former teams, and the NBA, issued statements in recognition of his impact on the sport of basketball and on his native Sudan.[29][30][31] A salute to Mr. Bol took place on the floor of the Unites States Senate just a few days after his death.[32]

Funeral Plans

The family of Manute Bol has announced that his funeral will be held on Tuesday, June 29, 2010, at 10:00 a.m. at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.[33]

The public is invited.[34]

My Thoughts…

I wasn’t a huge Manute Bol fan, yet being the tallest player in the NBA, he was fun to watch.  He developed some 3-point range when he went to Golden State, which extended his career a few years.   The tragedy for me is that Manute played in the NBA for 10 years… made millions of dollars, yet when he retired, he was broke and actually there were some players who rallied to help him during his times of challenge.  Here’s a summary of his career.

NBA

In 1985 Bol 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 the league on the court for one season.

Washington Bullets

Bol’s first tenure with the Bullets lasted for three seasons from 1985 to 1988. In his rookie season (1985-1986) Bol appeared in 80 games and recorded a career-high 5.0 blocks per game. His total of 397 blocks set the NBA rookie record.

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. At this time he may have helped to popularize the expression “my bad“, although a 2005 suggestion that he coined the phrase has been discounted.[6][7]

Philadelphia 76ers

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.[8] Fans have been known to yell out “shoot” as soon as Bol touches the ball when he is far from the basket.[9]

Miami Heat

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.

Manute & Mugsy

Washington Bullets (2nd stint)

Bol’s second stint with the Bullets lasted only two games during the 1993-1994 season. Thereafter 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, who wore 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).[citation needed] 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. However, 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, and also managed to unload a three point attempt in the limited minutes.

Shot blocking

Due to his height and extremely long limbs, Bol was one of the league’s most imposing defensive presences, blocking shots at an unprecedented rate.[10] Along with setting the rookie shot blocking record in 1985-86, over the course of his career Bol tied for the NBA record for the most blocked shots in one half (eleven) and in one quarter (eight, twice).[11] In a game against the Orlando Magic, he blocked four consecutive shots within a single possession.[12]

However, Bol’s 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. [citation needed] Bol also developed a close friendship with teammate Chris Mullin.

Career accomplishments

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. 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.[13] As of 2010, Manute Bol remains:

  • First in career blocks per 48 minutes (8.6), almost 50% beyond second-place Mark Eaton (5.8).[14]
  • Second in career blocks-per-game average (3.34).[15]
  • Fourteenth in total blocked shots (2,086).[16]
  • The only player in NBA history to block more shots than points scored, blocking 2,086 shots and scoring 1,599 points.[16]

Post-NBA

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.

Activism

Bol was very active in charitable causes throughout his career. In fact, he said he spent much of the money he made during a 10-year NBA career supporting various causes related to his war-ravaged nation of birth, Sudan.[17] He frequently visited 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 was Christian, refused because one of the pre-conditions was converting to Islam.[18] 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.[18]

Bol established the Ring True Foundation in order to continue fundraising for Sudanese refugees. He gave most of his earnings (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.

In the fall of 2002, Bol signed a one-day contract with the Indianapolis Ice of the Central Hockey League. Even though he couldn’t skate, the publicity generated by his single game appearance helped to raise money to assist children in Sudan.[19] Bol once suited up as a horse jockey for similar reasons.

Bol was involved in the April 2006 Sudan Freedom Walk, a three-week march from the United Nations building in New York to the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C.. The event was organized by Simon Deng, a former Sudanese swimming champion (currently a lifeguard at Coney Island) who was 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 a fellow Sudanese refugee; 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.

Life after basketball

After a political dispute in Sudan, in 2002 Bol was admitted to the United States as a religious refugee, and resided in West Hartford, Connecticut.[20] In July 2004, Bol was seriously injured in a car accident, breaking his neck when he was ejected from the taxi he was riding in hit a guardrail and overturned.[21] When Bol recovered from these injuries he moved toOlathe, Kansas.[20]

Bol was also the “Brand Ambassador” for Ethiopian Airlines and Ethiopian Airlines Journeys.

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