Standing at 7’7″ Manute Bol is still to this day one of the tallest players in NBA history. He is also one of the rare players in NBA history that had more blocks than points in his entire career. Unfortunately, Manute Bol died in 2010 at the age of 47. However, this wouldn’t be so strange if his former coach at Cleveland State Kevin Mackey believed Bol was much older than people thought he was.
After recruiting him for the Cleveland State, upon his arrival to the states, Bol didn’t know what his actual age was. Naturally, Mackey made up a date for his birthday and said nobody knew how old he was at that time.
“I gave him his birthday because they didn’t know how old he was.[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.”
What is even crazier is that Mackey thinks Bol might have been in his early 40s when he came to the US back in 1984. He never actually played for Cleveland State because of enrollment issues, but Mackey remembers him still to this day and the fact he was probably much older than what was believed by everyone.
“I wanted to make sure he was young enough because he didn’t have an age. 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 ended his NBA career with the Golden State Warriors in 1995, which means he was around 50 and still playing n the NBA. There were several similar stories in different sports about players presenting themselves to be younger than they are so they get a contract. Nevertheless, if that might be the case with Bol and his age, it’s even more fascinating if he was able able to play in the NBA at the age of 40 and 50 and still be a solid role player. He worked on his craft and is still, to this day, remembered as one of the best shot blockers in NBA history.