Former NBA All-Star Nick Van Exel went from crafty point guard on the court to calling plays from the sidelines. The man who coined the term ‘Lakeshow’ is currently an assistant coach for the Texas Legends of the NBA Development League.
Van Exel was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers in 1993, representing them in the 1998 NBA All-Star game in New York. His career spanned 13-years and included stints with the Denver Nuggets, Dallas Mavericks, Golden State Warriors, Portland Trailblazers, and San Antonio Spurs. He was known for being a gritty left-handed point guard with nice handles and a three-point shot that complimented his ability to get to the basket.
Van Exel began his transition from player to personnel in 2009 as an assistant coach for Texas Southern. He worked in player development for the Atlanta Hawks from 2010-2012, and again as an assistant coach for the Milwaukee Bucks from 2013-2014. He now coordinates the offense for the Legends under Head Coach Eduardo Najera.
It has been said in football that former quarterbacks make the best head coaches. The same is true for point guards in basketball.
Derek Fisher earned a 5-year, $25 million dollar contract to become head coach of the New York Knicks. Although he had no prior experience, the leadership he displayed as a player served as his qualification. Other former point guards have seen success as head coaches like Scott Brooks of the OKC Thunder, ABC Commentator Mark Jackson, and Doc Rivers of the Los Angeles Clippers.
Van Exel, who played under Bob Huggins at the University of Cincinnati, has the pedigree of a professional basketball player who experienced triumph and dealt with adversity. He has the talent, background, attitude to one day become a head coach in the NBA.
A Van Excellent Ending
Before Derek Fisher’s heroic .4 game-winner in 2004 against the Spurs, Nick Van Exel performed magic of his own in the playoffs at the Alamodome. He hit a running three-pointer to beat the Spurs in overtime of Game 5 of the 1995 Western Conference Semi-Finals. The underdog Lakers were later eliminated by MVP David Robinson’s team after upsetting Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp’s Seattle SuperSonics in four games.
Closing Out The Garden
Although he never had a chance to face them in the NBA Finals, Van Exel does have a page in Lakers vs. Celtics history. He made an improbable game-winning corner three-point shot in the final Lakers game played in Boston Garden on January 20th, 1995.