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Nickey (Nick) Maxwell Van Exel (born November 27, 1971 in Kenosha, Wisconsinmarker) is a retired Americanmarker professional basketball player. Van Exel, a 6'1" (1.85 m) left-handed point guard, was most well known for his flashy style of play and his ability to hit critical shots during games.

College career

Van Exel played his college basketball at Trinity Valley Community College and the University of Cincinnatimarker.

In his senior year, Van Exel led the Cincinnati Bearcats in points (18.3 ppg) and assists (4.5 apg) Coach Bob Huggins incorporated Van Exel into the University of Cincinnati team gradually, giving him starter status in the final 20 games of the season. In these games Van Exel led the Bearcats to an 18-2 mark and an NCAA Final Four appearance. He earned Third Team All-America honors (AP, Basketball Times and Basketball Weekly) and was a finalist for the Wooden Award as a senior. In only two seasons he became Cincinnati's all-time leader in three-point field goals made (147), attempted (411) and percentage (.358). These records have since been surpassed.

NBA career

In a 13 year NBA career, Van Exel played for the San Antonio Spurs, Portland Trail Blazers, Golden State Warriors, Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Lakers.

Van Exel's career began when he was selected by the Los Angeles Lakers in the second round as the 37th overall pick of the 1993 NBA Draft. Van Exel and Eddie Jones were the centerpiece of the Lakers' "rebuilding" plan in the twilight of the "Showtime" era of the early '90s. Led by Van Exel's flashy play, the two guards helped the team to the playoffs in 1995 after the Lakers had missed the postseason for the first time in years in 1994.

During his career with the Lakers Van Exel averaged 14.9 points per game as well as 7.3 assists per game, finishing in the top ten in the NBA in that category twice. Van Exel reportedly experienced tensions with several teammates, including 1996 draftee Derek Fisher, as well as Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal, who joined the Lakers in 1996, though his later trade is generally thought to be the result of a major conflict with then-head coach Del Harris.

On June 24, 1998, after five seasons as the starting point guard, Van Exel was traded to the Denver Nuggets for Tony Battie and the draft rights to Tyronn Lue.

Playing on a Nuggets team which was one of the worst in the league at the time, Van Exel achieved several career highs. Over four seasons he put up averages of 17.9 ppg and 8.3 apg, averaging 21.4 ppg through 27 games of the 2001-02 season.

On February 21, 2002, he was traded by the Nuggets along with Raef LaFrentz, Avery Johnson, and Tariq Abdul-Wahad to the Dallas Mavericks for Juwan Howard, Donnell Harvey, Tim Hardaway, and a 2002 first-round pick.

In Dallas Van Exel played a smaller role, but contributed effectively by creating scoring opportunities and scoring key three pointers. He averaged 15.5 ppg during the 2002-3 season, and nearly 20 ppg in the 2003 playoffs, carrying the offensive load for the Mavericks in a tight series against the Sacramento Kings.

Van Exel was traded on August 18, 2003 to the Golden State Warriors along with Evan Eschmeyer, Avery Johnson, Popeye Jones, and Antoine Rigaudeau in exchange for Antawn Jamison, Chris Mills, Danny Fortson, and Jiri Welsch. During the 2003-4 season he played in a career low 39 games, averaging 12.6 ppg and 5.3 apg.

On July 20, 2004, he was traded by Golden State to the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for Dale Davis and Dan Dickau. With the Blazers he played in only 53 games, averaging 11 ppg.

Van Exel was waived by Portland on August 3 2005, and he signed with the San Antonio Spurs on August 29. After signing, Van Exel stated that it would be his last season in an NBA uniform.Due to injury, he only played in 65 games during the 2005-06 season. He averaged career lows in almost every statistical category, including points (5.5 ppg) and minutes (15 mpg). In the playoffs, San Antonio was knocked out a seven game series at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks. In this series Van Exel picked up key technical fouls which may have caused his team to lose. Two days later, on 24 May, 2006, ESPN's Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon reported on their show Pardon the Interruption that Van Exel would soon announce his retirement.

Player highlights

  • Van Exel was the last Laker to score in the fabled Boston Gardenmarker when he nailed a three pointer at the buzzer to give the Lakers the win.
  • He hit a pair of clutch three-pointers for the Lakers in game 5 of the 1995 Western Conference Semifinals against the San Antonio Spurs. The first one sent the game into overtime, while the second one decided the game[106875].
  • Recorded a career high 23 assists on January 5th 1997 against the Vancouver Grizzlies. This record has come under scrutiny when it was admitted by the scorekeeper for the Grizzles that he intentionally inflated Van Exel's assist total due to the scorekeeper's displeasure with the NBA's score keeping system and wanted to prove its lack of accuracy.
  • Van Exel currently ranks 6th all-time in NBA career three-point field goals made with 1,528.
  • He finished in the top 15 in assists in 8 of 13 seasons.
  • Coming into the 2005–06 season Van Exel was first all-time among Los Angeles Lakers in three point field goals made with 750. Midway through the season he was surpassed by Kobe Bryant.
  • Popularized the move of 'punching the air' after making a clutch shot during a game.


  • Named an NBA All-Star in 1998, along with three of his Lakers teammates
  • The Lakers #2 all-time in 3-point field goals made (with 750)
  • Member of the 1994 All-Rookie Second Team


  • His free throw technique is somewhat unorthodox in that he stands about a foot behind the line. He developed this style after his tenure with the Lakers because he felt he shot better when he was not on the line. He has shot 79.6% from the line in his career.
  • His nicknames include "Nick the Quick", Nick "At Night" and Nick "Van Excellent". In high school his nickname was "Pearl", and "Nick the Quick".
  • Nick's house was featured on MTV Cribs in its first season.
  • While with the Lakers, during the 1996 season he shoved referee Ron Garretson over the scorer's table after given a technical foul in a game against the Denver Nuggets in Denvermarker. Magic Johnson, who had rejoined the team during the season, publicly denounced Van Exel's outburst. Johnson went on to chest bump a referee only a few games later. Both were suspended.
  • Has a scar on his right eyebrow from a traffic accident when he was a teenager.
  • Wore number 31 while playing in college for Cincinnati, number 9 for the Los Angeles Lakers, number 37 for the Golden State Warriors, number 19 for the Portland Trail Blazers, and number 31 for the Denver Nuggets, Dallas Mavericks, and San Antonio Spurs.
  • Suffered a broken collar bone while playing for the Golden State Warriors and the Portland Trail Blazers.
  • In the hit song Crazy in Love by Beyoncé and Jay-Z, Van Exel is mentioned by Jay-Z: "Soprano the roc handle like Van Exel".
  • In The Game's 100 Bars and Runnin', he's briefly mentioned in the line, "I'll let 'em all go like the Lakers did Elden, Eddie and Nick."
  • In Crooked I's Creased Khaki Flow he says, "Shoot ridiculous like Nicholas Van Exel"


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