Sunday, June 8, 2008

Boltending: Here’s to you, Manute Bol!

As we watch the NBA Finals and fans fawn over Kobe and KG, let's not forget the role players that came before them. Some might call them "sideshows."

Cadillac Mescallade remembers growing up with "Nootie."

Which reminds me, HHR is looking for regular contributers to take some of the load off of myself (Ren), Fat Willard and the chief. If you are interested in contributing to our wildly (ok, mildly) popular blog on a regular basis, drop us a line.


I’m not sure where my love affair with him began (no homo). He came into my life awkwardly, much like everywhere he entered. When you stand seven feet, seven inches tall, I’m not sure you do anything graceful. I think it all began through ESPN. Back in the day around 4:30 in the afternoon they used to show a show dedicated to old school NBA highlights. On one of these shows a video entitled “Boltending” was shown and I was hooked.

In this video Manute Bol, or “nootie” as I’ve grown fond of calling him, displayed all the amazing skills you’d never expect from a man so tall. He would launch three pointers, dunk without jumping, and block the shots of multiple people all in the same sequence. It was amazing. Much like a political propaganda piece, I was shown all the good and none of the bad, but it didn’t matter I had cast my vote for Bol.

As it turned out the consensus from most fans was that he wasn’t any good. I disagree. Sure he never averaged more than four points a game, big whoop, wanna fight about it? But look what this man did on defense, in his first season with the then Washington Bullets (changing that name has really stopped gun violence, right?), he discarded 397 shots. And that doesn’t count the times opposing players said to themselves, “screw that, I’m not going into that ridiculously tall man’s proverbial house.” In the next two seasons with the Bullets he would go on to top 200 blocks in each season, but then, like any valuable prostitute, Bol became exchangeable. Manute was sent to the Golden State Warriors where he reinvented the idea of daisy duke shorts as he donned those royal blue and yellow hip huggers. In a stroke of brilliance not seen since Hostess developed the Chocodile, then Warrior head coach Don Nelson decided to let Bol shoot three pointers. Why not? The Warriors at that time were to points scored as Al Pacino in “Scarface” was to cocaine, they could not get enough. Everybody shoots and we all score.

Nootie launched a ridiculous 91 treys that season in 1988-89 and banged down 20. In that season I vividly remember him banking one in, the site of which Manute reacted to like every other amazing act he ever accomplished, no emotion. You know...act like you’ve been there before. Then reality set in and Bol was off to the Philadelphia 76ers where they stopped drinking the Kool Aid on all that three point business. Manute kept blocking shots and the legacy continued to grow.

Fast forward through a couple of horrendous seasons with the Miami Heat and Bol’s career ended with the Warriors, once again, where he played just five games and had to call it a career. Now, of course, Bol will never end up in the Hall of Fame, hell he might not end up in the University of Bridgeport (his college) Hall of Fame.

When it comes down to it, it’s not about the cool things he did, or the terrible things he did like try and play hockey or get charged with spousal abuse. It’s about the amazing things he did like block the hell out of basketballs and most recently surviving a car wreck. Insanely tall people aren’t supposed to survive the type of wreck he was in, there is just too body much to go around. But that tells you something - Manute is supposed to be around. Sure, he spent most of his NBA cash trying to build a struggling Sudanese army and now lives in a modest home in New England, but let’s remember his glory. As he enters the later years of life and has become largely a recluse I think it is time we honor Manute Bol. It’s time for a new wing in the NBA Hall of Fame. Let’s devote to the special guys, the ridiculously tall and the comically short. The Manute Bols and Mark Eatons, the Mugsy Bogues and Spud Webbs (actually Spud and Mugs were no joke). Give these men their due. You won’t see their cologne anytime soon or sneakers at the store, but they gave us a lot, especially Bol. His awkward three point shots thrilled us, his swatting ability amazed us, his standstill dunks defied logic and his jog down court reminded us of Bambi on that icy pond, but there will never be another man like him.

Here’s to you Manute Bol!

No comments: