I don’t want this to be a website dedicated to obituaries, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t pay tribute to the basketball player, Manute Bol, who died last Saturday. Manute was seven feet seven inches of solid skin and bone. He was so tall he could dunk a basketball while standing flat footed.
He was a specialist. He averaged more blocks per game than points his rookie year, but he once hit six three pointers in a single game. He looked too frail to hurt a fly, but he once killed a lion with a spear and when he was placed in a celebrity boxing match against Refrigerator Perry he more then held his own. When the meanest player in the NBA, Anthony Mason, disrespected Manute, Manute threw a punch. It didn’t come close to hitting Mason. I’m certain anyone else would have gotten clobbered, but Manute’s attempt at violence inspired only a laugh from the broad shouldered bully.
Manute’s great height and narrow physique brought out all the one liners. Woody Allen once said Manute doesn’t get on a plane for road trips. They just fax him to the next city.
But I come here not to mock Manute, I come to salute a kindred spirit. I have never killed a lion, but back in the early nineties I too was tall and skinny (although with a much lighter complexion). As I played basketball I would block anything that came my way on the Key Biscayne courts, but I lacked the grace to be known as Hakeem or the skill to be called David (Robinson). No, instead they called me Manute, shot blocker extraordinaire.