It looks as if Nick The Quick has been hired by the Atlanta Hawks to “bring out the dog” (his own words) in some of the Hawks more timid players, notably recent 1st round draft pick Jeff Teague. If you’re familiar with his playing career, there aren’t too many people who would have seemed more unlikely to end up a coach than Nick. Just ask Del Harris, who did not have the smoothest experience coaching Nick in LA.
Of course, the fact that Van Exel was taken with the 37th pick in the 1993 draft was attributed to the fact that he was considered a risk on the behavioral side, as his on-court talents were never in dispute. By the time he retired some 13 years and 12,000+ points later, it could be said that both points had been proven true.
So, for the benefit of those not familiar with the cold-blooded lefty and his numerous deeds of yesteryear, I present a brief (but colorful) history lesson:
LESSON 1: NICK VAN EXEL WAS NOT ABOVE SHOVING A REFEREE TO GET HIS POINT ACROSS
Short version is, Referee Ron Garretson made a call on Nick. Nick didn’t like said call, so he got up and hit dude with a forearm shiver, knocking him onto the scorers table. End result: 7 game suspension, $25,000 fine, and a seed planted in the mind of Magic Johnson, who himself would be busted for physical contact with a ref just a short time later.
Best part was, Van Exel issued and apology to EVERYONE BUT Garretson, and also opined that “this stuff wouldn’t be happening if I was white”.
LESSON 2: NICK VAN EXEL WILL KICK YOUR ASS
According to this 1996 Sports Illustrated piece, written in the aftermath of the Garretson incident, Van Exel was in a group of people that beat down a fellow Junior College teammate. Seems Nick kicked the guy in the face while he was already unconscious, and later explained his actions thusly, “When you’re fighting, it’s not like I’m going to feel sorry for you,” says Van Exel. “When you’re fighting, you’re fighting.”
Words to live by, indeed.
LESSON 3: NICK VAN EXEL KNOWS THE IMPORTANCE OF A GOOD VACATION
So, the Lakers were one game from being swept out of the 1998 Western Conference Finals by those dastardly Utah Jazz. At the end of practice on the eve of the final game, the team was wrapping up pactice with the old “1-2-3…Lakers!” routine. Except Nick said something else. Something like, “1-2-3…Cancun!”. OK, he said exactly that. Well, Shaquille O’neal didn’t find the humor in it, and months later, Van Exel was shipped to Denver for spare parts.
I’m sure he enjoyed Mexico, though.
LESSON 4: NICK VAN EXEL HAD ICE WATER IN HIS VEINS
Laker broadcaster Stu Lantz used to have specfic term for the nights when Nick was feeling it: “he’s got that little hop in his step tonight”
Well, when he had that hop, you best look out. Dude was capable of putting 40 on you or just making you look foolish, and had a rep as one of the greatest clutch performers of his time. Here’s a link to a nice tribute done by the folks at NBA fanhouse.
LESSON #5: NICK VAN EXEL STILL HAS FANS. CREEPY ONES
So, I stumbled on to this Van Exel fan site, the highlight of which was the
petition to get the 39 year old guard to the Miami Heat. This page has creepy airbrushed photos of Nick in a Heat jersey, along with a link to the “get Van Exel to Miami” Facebook group.
They even posted this cute lil’ cartoon:
I love the internet.
And there you have it.
Oh, and for what it’s worth, I’d be willing to bet a large some of money on the fact that Jeff Teague will be a better player for the experience, or at the very least he’ll start making headlines one way or another.
Back shortly with more previews