Retired NBA player Manute Bol, known as one of the tallest players in the league’s history, died Saturday morning (June 19) at a Virginia hospital, where he was being treated for severe kidney trouble and a painful skin condition.
He was just 47 years old.
The former 7 ft. 7 in. Sudanese-born NBA player was admitted to the University of Virginia Hospital in Charlottesville in mid-May, and passed this weekend.
Sudan Sunrise executive director Tom Prichard said that both Sudan “and the world have lost a hero”, via in an email.
Bol worked closely with the humanitarian group during and after his NBA career for peace efforts in his native Sudan, donating nearly all of his $6 million career earnings to help the country.
He played 10 seasons in the NBA, bouncing from team to team, with stints in Washington, Golden State, Philadelphia and Miami.
Due to his height and extremely long limbs, Bol was one of the league’s most imposing defensive presences at the time — his speciality was … you guessed it, blocking shots. He set the rookie shot blocking record in 1985-86, but over the course of his career, Bol tied for the NBA record for the most blocked shots in one half (11) and in one quarter (8).
However, while he was imposing defensively, his offensive skills did not stack up. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, former coach Don Nelson decided to allow Mr. Bol to launch shots usually reserved for guards as a way to hide Bol’s lack of offensive skills. So, he told him to stand near the three-point arc and shoot only if the shot clock was down to five seconds or less.
“He actually thought he was a good offensive player, but, of course, he wasn’t,” Nelson said. “When I told him that he could shoot three-pointers, he bought into it.
“He loved it, his teammates loved it, and the fans loved it. It was really great.”
Bol was drafted into the NBA in 1985 in the second round by the Washington Bullets. Two years later, the Bullets drafted the 5 ft. 3 in. point guard Muggsy Bogues, pairing the tallest and shortest players in league history on the court for one season.