Nick the Quick is quite the jokester. Only one time, he took it too far. It became a catalyst for the Lakers to trade him to Denver, as to this day, the 1-2-3 Cancun fiasco remains the most poorly timed joke in NBA history. But wait, there’s more.
Before the trade happened, Van Exel was already on thin ice with the Lakers’ GM Jerry West. He had already given up his starting spot to inferior Derek Fisher, under the pretext of doing it for Fisher’s good. But LA’s front office didn’t see it as such. Nick was quitting on the team – that was their interpretation of things.
“Well, I’m sure they’re going to look at it as far as trying to get me out of there, blame it on me as an excuse. Derek, throughout the season, his confidence was going up and down, up and down. So I figured if he was starting, his confidence would be up. I’m always going to have confidence. I guess they didn’t see it that way. I guess they felt I was giving up.”Nick Van Exel, LA Times
I guess that was Nick pledging for the Lakers’ future, letting a young kid develop at the expense of his time on the floor. Now I’m not sure what to think of that. It may or may not be true, but the fact is ever since Nick voluntarily embraced the sixth-man role, the whole climate around him and the organization changed. And Van Exel himself had felt it.
That’s when he started making jokes, embarking on a slippery slope that eventually led to his move from LA. That’s when another Nick the Quick classic happened, as he basically announced his revenge game after he leaves the Lakers.
“I say things all the time as far as, ‘Well, this is my last game with you guys. See you again when I come in here with 40,’ just to keep guys loose and laughing.”Nick Van Exel, LA Times
Now, Nick, you can tell it was all fun and jokes, and that you’ve put it upon yourself to be the team’s fun guy. But the fact is, you wouldn’t have joked about it if you hadn’t felt something was up. And for months before the deal happened, you could sense something happening. And it did, as Nick got traded to the Nuggets for Tony Battie and Tyronn Lue.
In terms of him dropping 40 on his former team, Nick the Quick did it in his first game at the Staples. He had a 41 points performance, as the Nuggets lost 117-104. Nevertheless, the Lakers had no answer for their onetime teammate. Nick went 14-for-26 from the floor and 11-for-13 from the charity stripe for an efficient scoring display. But he did more than just put the ball in the basket. Nick also grabbed 8 rebounds and dished out 9 assists, rounding up one of the greatest revenge games in NBA history.
When jokes turn to prophecies, thanks to the magic of Nick Van Exel.