Former Coach Says Manute Bol Might Have Been Playing In The NBA In His 50s

Bryan Brandom
(Photo: Getty Images)

As the career of his son Bol Bol takes a new big step, we’re still learning about the NBA career of Manute Bol.

The center spent 10 seasons in the league, leading it in blocks per game in the 1985-86 and 1988-89 seasons. And according to the former college basketball coach Kevin Mackey, who helped bring Bol to the states, he did it all while much older than his reported age.

Bol died in 2010 at the supposed age of 47, but according to the former Cleveland State coach, the man from Sudan could have been that old while he was still in the league.

“Every athletic door is open at 19, every athletic door is closed when you’re 35,” the 71-year-old Mackey told ZAGSBLOG. “He was probably 40, 50 years old when he was playing in the NBA.”

Mackey, now a scout with the Indiana Pacers, would know, because he apparently made up Bol’s birthday: October 16, 1962.

“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.”

He added: “It was in October, I wanted to make it after September 1. 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.”

Due to trouble meeting academic requirements thanks to an unfamiliarity with English, Bol never played for Cleveland State, instead spending a season at Division II University of Bridgeport before reaching the pros.

Still, Cleveland State was placed on two years of probation for providing improper financial assistance to Bol and two other players.

“They sniffed around for four f**king years, and that’s all they could come up with,” Mackey said in 1992. “I told the motherf**kers ‘Look at my guys—they’re wearing fake gold and driving old cars. For Christ’s sake, go find a program with real money.’ But they had one guy on the committee who was all upset because the Africans were taking scholarships away from American players.”

Manute Bol’s son, Bol Bol, recently committed to attending Oregon. He was one of the most highly recruited high school players in the nation.

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