By Leigh Montville
This is an interesting book because the subject is so interesting. Manute Bol is certainly one of the most unique individuals to ever play in the NBA. At 7'7", he's the tallest man to ever play basketball. He's one of the few, if not the only, to block more shots than score points. And of course, there is his background.
Bol is from the Sudan, and was born the son of a Dinka tribal chief. Montville thoroughly covers the Dinka culture and the conditions, particularly the civil war, in the Sudan. He tells, in detail, how Bol went from wanting a simple life to becoming a professional basketball player a half a world away. He tells the story through the eyes of those whose lives Bol touched -- many of whom were wanting to use Bol as their ticket to a better life-- the former coach who discovered him, the coach at Cleveland State University who tried to get Bol elgible, even though he couldn't speak English and couldn't read, as well as Bol's coach during his one year at the University of Bridgeport, his coach during his season in the United States Basketball League (where he teamed up with John "Hot Rod" Williams, and Anthony "Spud" Webb), his small-time agent, and the man assigned as Bol's caretaker during his early years with the Washington Bullets.
You see his career unfold through the the 1991-92 season with the Philadelphia 76ers, with stops in Washington and with the Golden State Warriors. You learn about his friendships, especially with Chris Mullin, and his longing to go back home. You also hear the legendary stories that followed Bol as he joined the league: how he killed a lion and how he broke his teeth the first time he dunked.
The book is a bit slow at times, and would have read more smoothly from a first-person perspective, but it's interesting because of the cultural lessons.
Manute: The center of Two Worlds. By Leigh Montville. Simon & Schuster. 1993.