Wednesday, May 2, 2012
NICK VAN EXEL-IN EXEL
A Quick Impact.
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
After all the nixed Chris Paul trade and the eventual Clipper problems that came with it the Lakers finally made their point with the signing of Ramon Sessions a month and change back. What a change it was too. This star of the future was heralded as the next leading Laker and the teams first real Point Guard in years. With all due respect to playoff hero and ultimate team player Derek Fisher and all he's given the team (raise his jersey in honour Buss family) these people making that point about the new point may just have one.
Its been a long time since the Lakers had some Magic at the leading, quarterbacking Point Guard position...literally. Still for the last potential promising P.G. that suited up in Lakers purple you might have to look to 1996 or currently at one of the assistants on the Atlanta Hawks bench. At 40 Nicholas Van-Exel may have the young, soaring Hawks by the talons as a player development coach but in his younger days 'Nick The Quick' was the flash and fancy that looked to bring the gold shine back to the rebuilding, post 'Showtime' nighties Lakers.
Whether it be showing a Fisher like clutch in the playoffs even before Derek, by hitting an overtime and a deciding basket against San Antonio in the 1995 playoffs. Or putting the final nail and basket in by scoring the last Laker point in the fabled fortress of the Boston Garden Nick Van Exel is a part of Los Angeles Laker history. From "handling the rock well" as Jigga Man, Jay-Z rapped on his wife's massive hit 'Crazy In Love' to dazzling with his dribble drives, this kid left fans drooling and opponents schooled. Along with the All-Star all round game of shooting guard Eddie Jones, Nick formed a backcourt set to be at the frontline of the Lakers flashy future. It all looked so good for the mid-nighties, middle of the road Lakers. Until things got better for the team and worse for Nick and Eddie as Shaq and Kobe came into town.
This still resulted in an All-Star year where Shaq, Kobe, Eddie and Nick all suited up for the '98 Western team in the NBA's mid-February classic. Still when problems and disagreements ensued (even before Bryant and O'Neal got into it) the fabulous Lakers four before Malone and Payton suited up disbanded like The Beatles. Still this dream team woke up an otherwise dormant Lakers before the team picked up a Fisher, a Fox and a Big Shot Bob, moved to STAPLES and packed up some championships with them.
Nick's quick video game play made him and the Lakers an armchair, television fans favorite, whether for the remote control or the joystick generation. After exceeding the second round, 37th Draft choice selection with the Lakers Nick flashed forward through Denver, Dallas, Golden State, Portland and San Antonio, giving the Nugget, Maverick, Warrior, Trail Blazer and Spur ballclubs some real brilliance.
Whether wearing 9, 31 or 37 or 19, or hitting numbers like 14.9 points per, Van Exel put up the big numbers in excess of a decade in the game. The quick draw lefty shot opponents down in the Wild West and drew double teams and fouls the right way, leading to his unorthodox one foot behind the line free throw habit. Nick stayed ahead however, from being a top assist man over the seasons to leading all the Lakers in history with three-pointers made before Kobe took over him. Even before he was replaced in the Forum by new Laker talents, Nick earned his place in purple and gold legacy no matter how quick it lasted.