Tuesday, December 26, 2017

The 45 Most Important Players to the Chicago Bulls Dynasty - #35 Ed Nealy

Ed Nealy
Ed Nealy was a player who was consistently underrated and overlooked. This man was so disrespected that in college, he was one of the subjects of the 1981 Washington Post article,  "Who Are These Guys?; Kansas St.: Short, Fat and Still Alive; Kansas State? Yes, Kansas State." But he found his niche and made positive contributions to every team that he was on. Now, that being said, Nealy may have had the lowest ceiling of any player in the NBA, but the man did everything he could to reach that ceiling. He was one of Michael Jordan's favorite teammates, and Jordan thought everybody sucked - that is, everybody except for Ed Nealy.

During all four years at Kansas State, Nealy put up between 9.8 and 11.3 points per game while getting 8.2 to 9.1 rebounds per game. The only thing that changed was his efficiency improved every season. This was enough for him to get selected in the eighth round by the Kansas City Kings, which yes, was a NBA team.

Ed Nealy never set the world on fire during his eleven-year NBA career. His career highs were 4.4 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.8 steals, and 0.2 blocks. But you knew what you were getting with Ed Nealy, nothing special, but nothing harmful either, as you knew he would take up minutes and not screw up.

After an initial run with Chicago from 1988-1990, the Bulls traded for him on February 25, 1993. What did the Bulls give up? A conditional 2001 second round draft pick. Not only is that pick so far down the road, but it was also not exercised. Even funnier is that this was the second time the Bulls traded a conditional pick for Nealy, and the first one was also not exercised. As the Dire Straits once beautifully sang, "Money for nothing, and Ed Nealy for free."

Down the stretch, Nealy played in 11 games. He did what Ed Nealy always does, plays solid basketball in totally forgettable ways. It was not enough to earn him any playing time during the playoffs, but he did enough for a championship ring which isn't too bad of a haul for a guy that people kept overlooking.

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