Did Manute Bol really have 31 blocks, 32 points, and 29 rebounds in one game?

Sometime last week, I was finishing up some type of basketball article and as I scrolled toward the bottom of the piece, my eye caught a click bait headline in one of those “You Might Also Like” article grids.

It was something about former NBA center Manute Bol recording 31 blocks in one game or something.

Now normally, I wouldn’t click on these headlines as a matter of principle and because they’re often dubious, but because I’ve never come across that accomplishment (having grown up watching NBA during that era), I relented.

I thought that maybe there was some truth there. It’s not entirely out of the possibility that the late 7’7 Sudanese center could have blocked more than 30 shots in one game.

Did Manute Bol’s 32-29-31 really happen?

The question of whether Bol actually pulled out this crazy triple double comes down to the alleged thirty-one blocked shots in one game. So in order to verify, I did some research on this and wasn’t able to find that article referencing Manute’s alleged accomplishment.

All I can dig up now are some random forum posts, outdated blog posts, and links to videos and images that no longer exist. Maybe it wasn’t an article at all?  Perhaps it was this Facebook post or this Tweet? Both of which don’t cite and sources or box scores.

Without any hard facts to point to, let’s talk about whether this legendary statline could have happened.

Did Manute Bol really block 31 shots in one game?

Manute was certainly capable of blocking shots.

During his NBA career, he only started 133 out of the 624 games he played in. In those limited minutes, Bol blocked enough shots to be 18th on the NBA’s all-time list. It’s one thing to be tall, but you also have to have the knack to block shots, Manute had that coming into the NBA and was reflected in the fact that he led the league in blocks his rookie year with an average of 5 swats a game.

In his rookie year (Bol) swatted a league-leading 397 shots. “I remember going up to shoot my fadeaway jumper against him, and I just kept fading and fading and fading,” the Detroit Pistons’ 7’1″ James Edwards said. “By the time I thought I had a clear shot, I didn’t even hit the rim.”

All due respect to Edwards, but it’s one thing to get in the head of James Edwards, but it’s another to have Kareem Abdul-Jabber re-adjust after he was blocked three times by the rookie Bol.

That’s all to say that yes, we think that Manute was able to block 31 shots while playing Division III basketball for the University of Bridgeport. We’d put money on it. And you can find here more of those same easy bets.

yeah we think Manute could have blocked 31 shots in college

Could Manute Bol have recorded 29 rebounds?

Not only that, if you recall watching Manute in the mid-1980’s all the way through the mid-1990’s, you know that Bol wasn’t repelling shots into the cheap seats. He was one of those rare shot blockers that kept the ball in play – partially because he was so tall and relatively weak — that many of his blocked shots simply were lightly directed back whence it came. Check out this video:

That’s all to say that because Manute was sending players away with very little force, that means there were a lot of rebounds to be had. Being seven-foot-seven-inches, he had a good chance of grabbing those missed shots. It’s simple: 31 block shots equals 31 rebound opportunities.

Let’s talk about Manute Bol scoring 32 points

Listen, 31 blocks is an unbelievable stat, but knowing the Manute we saw in the NBA, his scoring 32 points might be just as unfathomable.

That’s not a knock on Bol’s offensive skills, but anyone would tell you that his cup of tea was as an interior defensive presence. That’s supported by the fact that Bol is the only player to record more blocks than points in their NBA career.

Apparently he had no trouble scoring, his one season at the college level saw him average 22.5 points, 13.5 rebounds and 7.5 blocks per game before making himself eligible for the NBA.

Know his averages in that one season and considering how he was blocking shots during that game, he must have reeeeeeeeeallly towered over whomever the Bridgeport opponent was in that game. With that clear dominance on the defensive end, it’s likely that his height was also just as effective on the offensive end.

The Final Word on Manute’s 32 point – 29 rebound – 31 block game

Even if we can’t find evidence to support it, we’re certain that the rumors are true. Even before we tell you the next reason why we believe that Bol statline, we’d be willing to wager it anywhere in the United States: we’d ante up in  Bridgeport, Connecticut (where the University of Bridgeport is located) betting in Colorado‘s Bridgeport, gambling in West Virginia, all the way down to Bridgeport, Texas.

Okay you get the point.

So not only have we justified how Manute Bol would have been able to accomplish that insane triple double of 32-29-31 in college, but we leave you with an eye-opening triple double he had in 1987 when he played for the Washington Bullets (now Wizards). From The Washington Post:

Manute Bol, who had averaged 14.6 minutes playing time per game this season, started for Malone and was on floor for all but the final 14 seconds. In that time he registered the Bullets’ first triple-double of the season: 10 points, 15 blocked shots and 19 rebounds.

Even against the best basketball players in the world and in the best league in the world, Manute was able to block 15 shots and grab 19 rebounds in one game. So would you doubt that the man could accumulate 32 points, 29 rebounds, and 31 blocks in a Division III college game?  We don’t.

Mad respect goes out to what the gentle giant accomplished and R.I.P. to the  humble humanitarian Manute Bol.

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