As we've seen time and time again over the years, making a bobblehead doll to honor an athlete (or commissioner, or cable talk show host, or whomever) can be a tricky business. Sometimes the finished product more closely resembles someone else. Sometimes very important details are missing. Despite all the hard work that goes into recreating the honoree's likeness, it can be difficult to accurately and fully encapsulate the scope of an individual's influence and accomplishments in a small, inherently caricature-esque collectible statue.
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Perhaps that's why, when the Golden State Warriors decided to honor the late, great and wonderfully unique Manute Bol, they chose to build their bobblehead to full life-size scale:
— Golden St. Warriors (@warriors) January 26, 2015
Yep, that's Warriors center Andrew Bogut — all 7 feet of him — standing next to a no-kidding 7-foot-7-inch functional bobblehead doll of the South Sudanese shot-swatter. We've seen life-size bobbleheads before, but this is the first one I can recall where the actual subject was almost literally larger than life.
The Warriors will honor Bol, who spent parts of three seasons in Golden State and died in June of 2010 at age 47 from kidney failure and complications related to skin disease, with a bobblehead giveaway at Tuesday night's matchup with the Chicago Bulls, with the first 10,000 fans at Oracle Arena taking home a much-more-reasonable-to-bring-on-the-BART 10-inch version of the big Bol bobbler. While the Bay Area faithful won't be taking home the Full Manute — which, when accounting for the pedestal, actually stands 8-foot-4 — they will get a chance to get up close and personal with the skyscraping sculpture:
To celebrate Manute Bol Bobblehead Night, the team will also have a life-size 7’7” Manute Bol Bobblehead on display in Section 112 of the main concourse at Oracle Arena. Fans will be encouraged to take photos with the Bobblehead and share on social media with the hashtag #ManuteBobblehead to help raise money for the Warriors Community Foundation. For every shared image of the life-size Bobblehead, Kingsford Capital Management will donate $1 to the Warriors Community Foundation through the Hoops For Kids program, up to $10,000. The Hoops For Kids program is committed to helping youth in the Bay Area live, learn and play.
Bol, one of the NBA's most notable early floor-spacing big men, joined the Warriors for the 1988-89 season after three years with the Washington Bullets, who drafted him out of the University of Bridgeport in the second round of the 1985 NBA draft. He came to Golden State in exchange for Dave Feitl and a future second-round pick that would eventually become Doug Roth, a pair of big men who'd combine to block fewer shots in their NBA careers than Bol did in his first 18 games in a Warriors uniform.
Bol averaged just 22.1 minutes per game for Don Nelson's Dubs during the '88-'89 campaign, making only four starts in 80 appearances, but the reedy pivot with the aircraft-carrier wingspan still led the league in both total blocks (345) and blocks per game (4.3) for the second time in his four-year career. He also shot 91 3-pointers and made 20 of them; this was a Don Nelson team, after all — for a Chris Mullin- and Mitch Richmond-led squad that made it to the Western Conference semifinals.
He played just two full seasons in Golden State before being shipped to the Philadelphia 76ers for a first-round draft pick that would later turn into Chris Gatling, and after nine NBA seasons, he returned to the Bay for a brief stint as a 32-year-old veteran during the 1994-95 season. He played just 81 total minutes over the space of five games, but he had one last great night in the sun, scoring nine points on perfect 3-for-3 shooting from downtown with six rebounds and two blocks in 29 minutes of work in a mid-November loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves. One week later, he played his last NBA game, and was waived the following February.
Some might remember him more for his time in D.C. or lining up alongside Charles Barkley in the City of Brotherly Love — or, perhaps better still, for his activism and humanitarian work in his native Sudan — but despite playing just 160 total regular-season games for the Warriors, Bol still ranks fourth in franchise history in blocked shots. With the Warriors in the midst of an all-time great season featuring seemingly nightly magic, it's not like fans need more reasons to turn out and turn up to watch the hometown team, but kudos to the Dubs for offering one anyway.
And if you're interested in seeing how the Manute bobblehead was designed and how the more portable versions were made, here's a Warriors TV report from China:
Hat-tip to Lang Whitaker at All Ball.
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