- Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
- Manute Bol came to the United States from Sudan in the mid-1980s.
- He may have already been in his 40s as a college player who was listed as being 23 years old.
- If true, Bol would have been at least 50 years old in his final NBA season.
Former NBA player Manute Bol died in 2010. It was reported that he was 47 at the time, but according to the coach who brought the 7-foot-7 Sudanese-born player to the United States, Bol was probably much older.
Former Cleveland State coach Kevin Mackey told Adam Zagoria of Zagsblog that Bol might have already been in his late 40s or even early 50s when he was still playing in the NBA in the early 1990s.
According to Mackey, he made up a birthdate for Bol when he recruited him to Cleveland State in 1984 because even Bol did not know how old he was.
“I gave him his birthday because they didn’t know how old he was,” Mackey told Zagoria. “[Bol] had no idea of his age and the kid who came over with him didn’t know how old he was. No one knew how old he was.”
Mackey went on to explain that he made Bol 23 years old at the time but thinks the player might have already been in his 40s in 1984.
“I wanted to make sure he was young enough because he didn’t have an age,” Mackey said. “I think he was [in his 40s], I really do. But there’s no way of ever really knowing … Every athletic door is open at 19, every athletic door is closed when you’re 35. He was probably 40, 50 years old when he was playing in the NBA.”
Bol never played at Cleveland State due to enrollment issues. He later played for a Division II school for one season and then played briefly in the USBL before moving on to a 10-year NBA career.
If Bol was already 40 in the mid-1980s, he would have been approximately 50 in his final NBA season, 1994-95, with the Golden State Warriors.
Despite Bol’s age, he was a player before his time. At a time when NBA teams still wanted their big men to bang down low, Bol was a 7-footer who could actually shoot when three-pointers weren’t as en vogue as they are now.
Bol’s son, Bol Bol, is now a high school player who recently committed to play at Oregon.