Obscure Athletes

Where the 15 Minutes of Fame Never End

RIP Manute Bol, 1962-2010

First off, my heartfelt condolences to the friends, family, and all of those affected by the unfortunate and untimely passing of Manute Bol. That being said, what the fuck?! Manute Bol was scheduled to be the subject of this Monday’s Obscure Spotlight. The article you’re about to read was written Friday; the day before Bol’s untimely demise. Coincidence, or  the Obscure Athletes’ Jinx??? You decide.

The mustache puts the obscure greatness of this photo, right over the top.

Manute Bol was a tall basketball player. So tall, in fact, that until the debut of Gheorghe Mureşan, he stood alone as the tallest man to ever play in the NBA. The Sudanese-born Bol was initially drafted in 1983 by the (at the time) San Diego Clippers, in the now long-extinct fifth round, but never played a game for the Clippers, as the NBA declared that Bol was ineligible for the draft.

Bol would go on to be drafted again, this time legally, in 1985 by the Washington Bullets in the second round. In his rookie season

The real question is, how did any shots NOT get blocked? Look at this dude!

 with the Bullets, Bol appeared in 80 games, during which he set the NBA rookie record for blocks with 397. He averaged 5.0 blocks per game in that season, a career-high. Bol played in Washington for two more seasons before landing in Golden State, where he played two seasons with the Warriors. In that time Bol added the jump shot to his repetoir, and you may remember screaming SHOOT every time Bol got the ball behind the arc, and rightfully so. Bol’s career began like one with promise of a bright future, but soon after leaving Golden State, took a turn for the obscure.

In August of 1990, the Warriors traded Manute Bol to the 76ers for a draft pick that ultimately ended up being fellow obscure athlete Chris Gatling. For the Sixers, Bol played only one full  season free of injury, with his games played decreasing each season he was in Philly. Injuries plagued the big man, and eventually Philadelphia released Bol in July of 1993.

Manute Bol came off the bench for the Heat for 8 games during the 1993 season. Miami signed him in October of 1993, and by January the 7′ 7” center was once again a free agent. That season he appeared in two games for the Bullets in a homecoming with the team that originally drafted him 8 seasons earlier.  It was a ten-day contract, after which he would make yet another homecoming in Philadelphia for another ten-day deal. In four games for the Sixers, Bol scored 6 points, snagged 6 boards, and blocked 9 shots. It looked as though the big man from Sudan was finally heading for a retirement, until the following season when he made yet another comeback, this time in a second stint with the Warriors. Just a week into his latest comeback, however, Bol suffered a career-ending injury on national television, and so ended the Manute Bol era in the NBA.

Manute Bol’s name faded into obscurity after his retirement, or at least as much obscurity as can be found for a 7’7” former NBAer. Bol was known best for his shot-blocking ability and his rediculously short stints on three of the NBA’s more obscure franchises. The only bummer about the career of this obscure athlete is that I always hoped one day we’d see him sign a  Manute Bol-esque, ten-day contract with the Celtics and fuck shit up, for just a glorious week and a half.


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