Bol & Bogues, An NBA Experiment

Posted 2/19/17

A decade before they were reincarnated into the Wizards, the Washington Bullets drafted the two tallest and shortest players in NBA history and paired them for a season- other than providing for a colorful sideshow, the synergies failed to raise the team's octane. 

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Bol & Bogues, An NBA Experiment

Posted

A decade before they were reincarnated into the Wizards, the Washington Bullets drafted the two tallest and shortest players in NBA history and paired them for a season.

Other than providing for a colorful sideshow, the synergies failed to raise the team's octane. 

The 1970’s were the Bullets’ golden era- six division accolades, four conference titles, and the franchise’s first and only championship trophy in 1978. 

But a few years after reaching glory, the team settled into a slump.  Searching for talent, the Bullets took a chance at the 1985 draft by picking up Manute Bol, a 7’7” (2.31 m) Sudanese native, the first African to join the NBA and the tallest ever at the time. 

Standing like a gangly mythical figure, Bol was a blocking specialist with an 8’6” wingspan and a 10’5” vertical reach, higher than the basket hoop. 

In his first season with Washington, Bol averaged six rebounds per game (rpg) and set a rookie record of 397 blocks (avg. 5 bpg). He snuffed an astounding 15 attempts in a single match against Atlanta.  

At retirement, Bol would  be the only NBA veteran who blocked more shots than he scored. 

Two years later, the Bullets gambled with another draft, 5’3” (1.60 m) point guard Tyrone “Muggsy” Bogues, the shortest player to ever land on an NBA roster. 

His stature resembling a jockey more than a basketball athlete, Bogues was a speed artist who made his way through the world of giants by exceling in steals and assists. He was ACC career leader in those categories and a member of the U.S. team when they won gold at the 1986 FIBA World Championship.  

For a single season in 1987/88, the unlikely yin-yang duo with the greatest teammate height difference in the annals of professional basketball, hit the court for curious possibilities.

Bol averaged 2.7 bpg and 3.6 rpg; Bogues came in at 5.1 assists and 1.6 steals per game.  Not withstanding Bogues’ first  year of playing, the  overall team performance was underwhelming. The Bullets ended up posting a 38-44 losing season and were knocked out in the first round of the playoffs. 

Though the pair couldn’t produce championship fuel, gate receipts were reported to increase when Washington was on the road. Seeing shots swatted like flies and balls swiped like candy from the best on the court was an unprecedented fan experience. 

At season's end, Bol and Bogues departed for other teams but not without  leaving behind  memories of their  unique vertical combination.

Other articles enjoyed: Philadelphia Warriors, College Hoops & The Mob, When UCLA Ruled Basketball, St Louis Spirits & The Greatest Sports Deal Ever , WBNA Going Strong

SPORTS HISTORY MAGAZINE in DIGITAL

Summer 2020

Spring 2020

Winter 2020

Fall 2019

Comments

No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment

Shop For Our Books & DVD's

CURRENT ISSUE

WEEKLY SPORTS PUZZLE

View larger Puzzle archive


THIS WEEK

10 years ago

FOOTBALL September 27, 2010  George Blanda, NFL placekicker and quarterback, dies at the age of 83. Spending 26 seasons with the AFL & NFL organizations, Blanda was the longest-playing pro in football history and the oldest when he retired in 1976 at age 48. Putting tenures with the Chicago Bears, Houston Oilers, and Oakland Raiders, the Pennsylvania-born Blanda played under renowned head coaches Bear Bryant, George Halas, and John Madden.

20 years ago

TENNIS September 30, 2000  Tennis star Pete Sampras marries former Miss Teen USA, Bridget Wilson. The serve-and-volley master and his actress-model wife would have 2 children and reside in southern California. One of the all-time greatest tennis players, Sampras turned pro in 1988 and succeeded in accumulating 14 grand slams by the time he retired following a memorable US Open final victory in 2002 against long-time rival, Andre Agassi.

30 years ago

BASEBALL September 22, 1990  Andre Dawson steals his 300th base and is the only player other than Willie Mays to achieve 300 home runs, 2,000 hits, and 300 steals. An 8x All-Star and NL Rookie of the Year (1977), Dawson spent most of his 21 years in MLB with the Montreal Expos and Boston Red Sox. He set multiple franchise records with the Expos and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2010. Dawson retired with a .279 batting average and 438 home runs.

40 years ago

BOXING September 27, 1980  Marvin Hagler defeats Alan Minter at London’s Wembley Arena to claim the WBA, WBC, and ‘The Ring’ middleweight titles. The badly cut Minter was forced to concede in the 3rd round, setting off a brawl among spectators and compelling Hagler and his trainer to be escorted back to their locker room by a heavy police presence. The bout was Hagler’s first world champion title, which he would defend 12 times over the course of his career.