In college he was called “Never Nervous” as he was a superstar who thrived in the pressure of big games and it isn’t easy to find a word that rhymes with Pervis.
In the NBA, due to his many injuries, some referred to him as “Never Healthy”.
A center and power forward at 6-10 and 242 pounds, Ellison won a championship in college with Louisville. During his four college years, Ellison scored in the paint and ended up with a career field goal percentage of 57.7%.
His averages over the four years were 15.8 points, 8.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game. Shot blocking was a skill he always had and in college he blocked nearly 3 shots per game.
The Sacramento Kings drafted him with the top pick of the 1989 NBA Draft. His rookie year wasn’t great as he played only 34 games, starting 22 of them. He did block 1.7 shots per game, playing 25.5 minutes per game, but he wasn’t scoring a lot and his field goal percentage was low at 44.2%.
The Kings were getting a combined 40 points a game from big-men Wayman Tisdale and Antoine Carr so Ellison was more of a backup plan and not the franchise center. A team was looking for a franchise center and they made a trade for Ellison.
The Washington Bullets sent shooting guard Jeff Malone to the Utah Jazz. The Bullets also sent a second rounder to Sacramento. That was the price for Washington getting Ellison. To complete the deal, Utah sent several players and draft picks to the Kings.
Ellison played 76 games for Washington in his first season there, and he lifted his field goal percentage to 51.3%. Washington was a much better fit for Ellison than Sacramento was.
For his next season, 1991-92, Ellison won the NBA’s Most Improved Player award. From 10.4 points. 7.7 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game, Ellison suddenly jumped to 20 points, 11.2 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game and also added 2.9 assists and 0.9 steals per game.
Ellison was the shot blocker that the Bullets needed. Harvey Grant and Tom Hammonds could get rebounds at power forward but they couldn’t defend the rim. At the guard positions Washington had scoring but they didn’t defend well as they played Michael Adams, Ledell Eackles, A.J. English and Rex Chapman. If opposition guards did get past those players there was always Ellison ready to block their shot.
Ellison gave Washington hope but over the next few years injuries would hit and he never replicated those numbers. His numbers would decline every year after that.
In August of 1994 Ellison found a new team when he signed with the Boston Celtics. They were a team looking to rebuild after the years of Bird, McHale and Parish.
For five seasons, Ellison gave them shot blocking and rebounding off the bench, while also starting some games when needed. He missed all of the 1999 season with injury.
The last stop for Pervis Ellison was in Seattle as he played 9 games in the 2000-01 season.