R. I. P. Manute Bol

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Bol towering over 6' 11\

Manute Bol was one of those rare players whose fame eclipsed his ability due to an oddity of shape, in this case his extreme height, and who used that fame entirely for the benefit of others. Manute was a fun player to watch, one of my favorites when he joined Charles Barkley and Hersey Hawkins in Philadelphia in the early ’90s. He remains one of the tallest players of all time at 7′ 7″, second only to Gheorghe Muresan. He also has the highest blocks per minute of any NBA player, and even though he never averaged as many as 30 minutes per game and played in the athletic heyday of Hakeem Olajuwon, he twice led the league in total blocks and blocks per game.

But Manute was beloved by fans because of his unusual lanky build and his omnipresent smile. He was one of the best known players of his era without ever making an all-star team. I can’t think of Bol without smiling, remembering stories that Barkley told about their time together on the Philadelphia 76ers.

Manute’s true mission was not on the court or on television though. He was dedicated to helping impoverished communities in his home nation of the Sudan, and his lucrative athletic and endorsement careers were both means to an end. He will be remembered for his humanitarian work, which touched millions on two continents.

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