We have the beauty of the 2011 internets to thank for this one. If not for them, I would have had a hell of a time writing something like this. Now, all I need is google image and my memory and the rest takes care of itself.
The idea was simple. I grew up collecting trading cards, mostly of the Baseball and basketball variety. Some of cards you got in packs would be valuable, most would not. In fact, some of them would be insignificant enough to be forgotten in shorter order, but just memorable enough to serve as a punch line 10 years down the road in an argument with your brother during an a game of NBA Live or whatever.
If you are over 30, you might shake your head and laugh at some of these. If you’re younger than that, you’ll have to take my word for it. Fun for all, regardless.
Just one of those names that couldn’t possibly belong to a star player. Also, it’s extraordinarily fun to say. Try it. Dave Feitl. Not sure what the pronunciation is, but I always went with Feitl as in fetal, and I ain’t changin’ now no matter what you tell me.
Career Highlight: Started a whopping 36 games for the 1989 Washington Bullets, presumably because regular starter Charles Jones had his left leg eaten by teammate John “Hot Plate” Willams.
What you didn’t know: Missed the 1989-1990 season learning ancient post moves from himalayan monks.
Or Pete Newell. Can’t remember which.
Quick trivia: How many 6’7″ guys have played center in the NBA since they cut a whole in the peach basket so they did’nt have to stop play so they could climb up and retrieve the ball?
Answer: Not many. Honestly, Ed Nealy was a throwback, even 20 years ago. The guy stuck around 10 years in the NBA based on elbow grease alone.
Career Highlight: Well, other than making it to the pro’s in the first palce, I’d have to say winning a ring with the 1993 Chicago Bulls, after which he retired a champion at long last. If only Karl Malone could have been as lucky as Ed Nealy.
What you Didn’t know: Nealy was Phil Jackson’s favorite player on that Bulls team, according to Sam Smith’s excellent book, “The Jordan Rules”. I’m not making it up, I swear. Read the book.
KEITH “MISTER” JENNINGS
This actual card is uniquely frightening, in a deleted scene from “Apocalypse Now” kind of way.
Anyway, Jennings was one of my favorite midget point guards ever, from his heroic NCAA tournament days with gritty underdog East Tennessee State to his perennial 10 day contract status in the pros, the kid they called Mister was fun to watch, as most 5’7″ NBA players tend to be.
Career Highlight: Ok, now I need you to pay close attention. It’s a pass to Chris Gatling for a dunk, incorrectly labeled an alley-oop on Youtube. It’s 4 seconds.
Watch it again, I’ll wait.
What you didn’t know: Went on to star as a Pro Wrestler and a B-movie star, notably playing the role of “The Midnight Thud”, a crack-addled midget fighting machine in Jamaa Fanaka’s opus, “Penitentiary III”.
Ok, so that might have been Raymond Kessler. All Apologies to the Haiti Kid, star of one of my favorite childhood memories.
Shit, I can do this kind of thing all day.
On that note, Part 2 will be up soon.