The tallest player in NBA history is Sundanese born Manute Bol who stood at 7 ft 7 in. He is also the only player in NBA history to have killed a lion with a spear and to have paid 80 cows for his wife.
Professional basketball career:
Bol turned professional in May 1985, signing with the Rhode Island Gulls of the spring United States Basketball League. Going into the 1985 NBA draft, scouts believed that Bol needed another year or two of college, but Bol opted for the draft because he felt it was the only way to earn enough money to get his sister out of Sudan, which was in a state of political unrest at the time.
Washington Bullets (1985–1988):
The Washington Bullets drafted Bol as the 31st overall in the draft. Bol’s first tenure with the Bullets lasted three seasons, from 1985 to 1988. In his rookie season (1985–1986), he appeared in 80 games and recorded a career-high 5.0 blocks per game. His total of 397 blocks set the NBA rookie record and remains the second-highest single-season total in league history, behind Mark Eaton’s 456 in 1984–85.
When he arrived in the United States, Bol weighed 180 pounds (82 kg) and had gained just under 20 pounds (9.1 kg) by the time he entered the NBA. The Bullets sent Bol to strength training with University of Maryland coach Frank Costello, where he could initially lift only 44 pounds (20 kg) on 10-repetition bench press and 55 pounds (25 kg) on 10-repetition squat (his body mass index was 15.3 and he initially had a 31″ (80 cm) waist).In 1987, the Bullets drafted the 5 ft 3 in (1.60 m) point guard Muggsy Bogues, pairing the tallest and shortest players in the league on the court for one season.
Golden State Warriors (1988–1990):
On June 8, 1988, Bol was traded by the Bullets to the Golden State Warriors for Dave Feitl and a 1989 second round draft pick (Doug Roth was later selected).
Bol’s first tenure with the Warriors lasted two seasons, from 1988 to 1990. In his first season with Golden State, he attempted three-point shots with regularity. In that season he attempted a career-high 91 three-pointers and made 20 of them. During this time, he may have helped to popularize the expression “my bad”, although a 2005 suggestion that he coined the phrase has been discounted.
Philadelphia 76ers (1990–1993):
On August 1, 1990, Golden State traded Bol to the Philadelphia 76ers for a 1991 first round draft pick (Chris Gatling was later selected).
Bol’s first tenure with the Philadelphia 76ers lasted three seasons, from 1990 to 1993. He played a career-high 82 games in his first season as a 76er, but his production began to decline afterward (in both games played and per-game statistics). After playing in all 82 games in 1990–91, he played in 71 games the next season, and in 58 (a career low at the time) games the following season. During his last season in Philadelphia, he had a memorable night playing against former teammate Charles Barkley and the Phoenix Suns, hitting 6 of 12 three-pointers, all in the second half in a losing effort. Fans were known to yell “shoot” as soon as Bol received the ball far from the basket.
Miami Heat (1993):
Released by Philadelphia, Bol played in eight games in the 1993–94 season with the Miami Heat, the only team that did not use him as a starter. He scored only one two-point field goal with the team and blocked six shots in 61 total minutes.
Washington Bullets (1993):
Released by Miami, Bol’s second stint with the Bullets lasted only two games in 1993–94. After that, he helped develop 7 ft 7 teammate Gheorghe Mureșan.
Philadelphia 76ers (1994):
After his release by Miami, Bol’s second stint with the 76ers lasted four games, near the end of the 1993–94 season, helping to mentor 7 ft 6 in (2.29 m) teammate Shawn Bradley. In only 49 minutes he played more aggressively than he did earlier in the season with Miami and Washington. He scored six points, grabbed six rebounds and blocked nine shots.
Return to Golden State Warriors (1994):
In the 1994–95 NBA season Bol returned to the Warriors. He made the season-opening roster and played his last five NBA games. On a memorable mid-November night Bol finally made his home debut, coming off of the bench to play 29 minutes against the Minnesota Timberwolves. He attempted three three-pointers in the fourth quarter and made them all. Seven nights later in Charlotte, in a game nationally televised by TNT, he was in the starting lineup again. By this time, two weeks into the season, his career seemed rejuvenated under Warrior head coach Don Nelson; he was again a defensive force, making threes and contributing as a starter to create matchup problems. After playing only ten minutes against the Hornets on November 22, 1994, he suffered a season-ending knee injury. Before he left the game, he recorded one block and two points and attempted a three-pointer in ten minutes of play.
Bol was waived by Golden State on February 15, 1995.
Overall in his NBA career, Bol averaged 2.6 points, 4.2 rebounds, 0.3 assists, and 3.3 blocks per game, playing an average of 18.7 minutes. He finished his career with 1,599 points, 2,647 rebounds, and 2,086 blocks. He appeared in 624 games over 10 seasons.
Post-NBA basketball career (1995–1998):
Bol played 22 games for the Florida Beach Dogs of the Continental Basketball Association during the 1995–96 season under Coach Eric Musselman. The Beach Dogs’ games against the Sioux Falls Skyforce that season were broadcast by ESPN, as the Skyforce also featured a former NBA player, Darryl Dawkins.
In 1996, the Portland Mountain Cats of the United States Basketball League announced that Bol would be playing with the team, but he never appeared in uniform. The Mountain Cats’ coach was Kevin Mackey.
Bol played professionally in Italy in 1997 and Qatar in 1998 before rheumatism forced him to retire permanently.