- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
The truth is impossible on both sides. His long legs have taken him across years as well as miles, decades of social change accomplished in a whirlwind seven years. His grandfather was a tribal chief, 7'10", with 30 wives and 80 children. He lived on a cattle farm. Manute is on instant replay in American homes. Manute is in the front seat, aisle, riding first class on airplanes. Manute is driving his specially adapted Bronco and wearing designer neckties and listening to a Walkman and living in the public now. Manute is finished with dinner.
He opens an eight-foot door into his soul.
"I am never bothered by the fact that I am tall," he says as the waiter clears the table. "When I was younger I was bothered, but not now. My height is a gift from God. That is what I say. I did not create it. What would I do if my wife had five sets of twins? Would I throw some of them in the ocean because I did not want them? We take our gift. I do not say anything bad about someone who is short or someone who is fat. You have to live with what you are given.
"Who knows what God may be dreaming of for us? There is a reason. Look at what he has dreamed of for me."
In Milwaukee, two Wisconsin kids appear with a bedsheet with the words MANUTE FAN CLUB painted across the front. They have done this for three years, going only to the games Manute plays. They say they like him because he seems to be a good guy and is "unique." In Cleveland, Manute somehow winds up with the ball twice halfway between midcourt and the three-point circle. The crowd immediately yells, "Shoot!" each time. He does not shoot. In Indianapolis, an older man behind the bench yells mean things at Barkley. Manute turns around and says, "Do you know that old men have heart attacks every day when they become excited? I would not become so excited if I were you." The man keeps quiet.
The Sixers are tromped in Milwaukee, 141-111. They are tromped again in Cleveland, 104-88. In Indianapolis, they rebound with a 108-100 win. In celebration, Barkley goes through a series of handshakes with Manute. Manute then bends down and the two men rub heads together.
"I love to win, dude," Manute says. "I love to win."
He has scored two points in the three games. He has collected seven rebounds. He has blocked three shots. The numbers are really not important.