Nick Van Exel RumorsAll NBA Players
In your role as the Lakers general manager, what was the toughest cut that you ever had to make? Probably the worst thing that I had to do, and I was almost forced to do it, was trading Nick Van Exel to Denver. He was one of my favorite players of all time, but he obviously wasn’t very happy with me because I would try, from a different position as a GM, to get him to understand that there are just certain things that you have to do in this league in order to survive. I told him that he had to be able to live with his coaches and live with his teammates, but there were just a whole bunch of things that happened that would not allow that to go forward. The thing that I liked about Nick was that he had an unbelievably difficult life growing up. He was so competitive, so it was a really sad day for me when I had to trade him.
“My first two years, I was coming in, trying to get baskets,” Teague told Sporting News recently at Hawks camp in Athens, Ga. “I just thought that was always going to be my role. And (assistant coach) Nick Van Exel pulled me aside and told me I’m a 6-1 point guard. I have to get others involved. No one’s going to pay a 6-1 shooting guard.”
A Dallas County jury sentenced Van Exel’s son, Nickey Maxwell Van Exel, then 22 years old, to 60 years in prison for the 2010 shooting death of his longtime friend Bradley Eyo. A jury found the younger Van Exel guilty of murder after prosecutors said he shot Eyo and then dumped his body on the east side of Dallas near Lake Ray Hubbard. Nickey Van Exel’s attorney said the two men were playing with a shotgun at Nickey Van Exel’s home in Garland when it discharged, and that Nickey Van Exel didn’t know the gun was loaded. “It probably haunts me,” said the elder Van Exel, who played 13 seasons in the NBA. “I wouldn’t say every day, but it’s on my mind. “When it first happened it probably haunted me for like the first two years because I knew [Eyo] so well, I knew his brother very well. He stayed at my house in the summers. I took him to the [NBA] Finals in 2006 — he and his brother — when Dallas played Miami, and I had them in Miami.”
During the trial, Nick Van Exel wept on the witness stand and apologized to Eyo’s family on Jan. 31, 2013, the day his son’s sentence was handed down. Time, Van Exel acknowledged, is now his primary coping mechanism. “For me, I look at both sides,” said Van Exel, who played the 2002-03 season with the Dallas Mavericks. “If I was on the other side I would be upset, angry. “Then I look at it like, this is my son, this is who I fathered. I didn’t raise him to be that way.”
“I wish I was a Grant Hill or those guys who were raised with two parents and understood you’ve got to do it this way, but I wasn’t. So I understood that basketball was like, this is my protection,” Van Exel said. “Looking back, you really don’t need that shield, but a little bit of it you do, because you don’t know if this person has your best interest. “That’s how we are as athletes. We come from the inner city and the projects, and we can’t trust everybody. Until you grow up and mature, then you’ll see that it’s not that bad, and then you’ll let the shield down a little bit.”