Manute Bol retired from basketball in 1995 at the age of 32, or so we’ve been led to believe.
The college basketball coach who brought Bol to the United States in the mid-1980s — now a scout for the Indiana Pacers — told zagsblog.com’s Adam Zagoria that he made up the 7-foot-7 center’s widely recognized birthday, October, 16, 1962, soon after flying him into the country for a recruiting visit.
“I gave him his birthday because they didn’t know how old he was,” former Cleveland State coach Kevin Mackey told Zagoria.
“[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.
“The immigration people were in the office [at Cleveland State] and they thought it was great. They loved it. And they were big fans of Cleveland State, they used to come to all our games. They wanted to cover themselves because Manute was starting to get so much publicity. His picture was in the paper. He was on the 6 o’clock news because he was a such a different looking guy than everyone else. At that time, no one had ever seen anything like it.”
Bol never played for Mackey at Cleveland State, although the program was placed on probation in the late 1980s for allegedly paying Bol and other African-born players. (Both Mackey and Bol denied those claims.) Instead, Bol played one season at the University of Bridgeport, averaging 22.5 points, 13.5 rebound and 7.1 blocks per game at the Division II level in 1984-85, when his allegedly made-up birthday would have listed him at 22 years old and Mackey believes he might have been closer to 40.