Last week, when we discovered Old Spice’s amazing video game, Dikembe Mutombo’s 4 ½ Weeks to Save the World, and once I was done playing it for 72 hours (catch the damn ballots, you morons!) I slipped into one of my very common NBA nostalgia wormholes. And what started out as a search for Mutombo finger wag GIFs actually turned into me revisiting Manute Bol’s career and subsequent extracurricular activities.
Of course, Bol passed away in 2010 due to kidney failure and a rare skin disease, but his legacy has lived on through the Ring True Foundation, which was Bol’s most important effort in aiding the people of his native Sudan. Unfortunately, as I looked through a number of pictures, videos and articles about Bol’s life, I was disappointed by the overwhelming use of the words “side show” and, even worse, “freak show” to describe the way that some people exploited his height.
What a lot of people either don’t remember – or just choose to ignore – is that Bol traded this perceived nnotion of exploitation to support his foundation. So even when he was “shamefully” boxing William Perry or hanging out with jockeys and riding horses, Bol was doing his part to make the lives of others that much better. After all, the cause may not matter in the long run to a lot of people, but George Clooney thought it was enough to get arrested over, so hopefully Bol has been bragging to St. Peter and the boys about that.
This isn’t news, but I thought it might be fun to remember Manute Bol, not as a sideshow but more of the main event. Big shoes, son of Manute. Seriously, huge shoes.