My name is Brad and I live in Australia. I became a fan of Nick Van Exel at age 12 after watching the Cincinnati Bearcats play North Carolina in the NCAA tournament in 1993. This was to be Nick's last college game, I already knew he had been drafted by the Lakers as games were not shown until several months later on Australian TV at the time. I was a big Lakers fan having been a Point Guard myself, I listed Magic as my favorite player. After watching Nick play I instantly took a liking to his game, he could do it all pass, shoot and was lightning quick. I identified with Nick straight away, #31 being my playing number and being a smaller PG myself instantly found I had more in common with Nick than Magic. Once the game had finished I said "how can that guy only have been drafted in the second round, he will be a star".
Once Nick's NBA career took off I quickly became hooked, having called it I felt a sense of pride in the fact I picked he could play. He was super confident and feared nobody, something I needed to work on myself at the time being only very young and very small. Nick was clutch, he would perform better as the game drew closer to the end. Nick also had one big similarity to myself, a fire in the belly that at times could not be contained. I was told often that I was my own worst enemy on the Basketball court and I'm sure Nick heard it more than me. I didn't mean to come across as a bad person, and did not feel I was an angry person and I felt Nick felt the same way. I loved how after being drafted so low, having nobody believe in his ability except himself, that he was able to shove it up the entire NBA in his rookie season. I was playing a low grade of Basketball at the time and felt, just you wait ill do a Nick Van Exel and show you all. I always felt people who don't have the competitive hunger just don't understand why people can become so emotional on the court. When I saw Nick get mad, to me that showed he cared and wanted to win, and to me that is what I felt every coach or GM should want in a player.
I continued to follow Nick through his career deciding to stop following the Lakers when Nick was traded to Denver. I grew tired of my favorite players getting traded all the time, my favorite team the 96 Lakers had traded or released every player from that team by the mid point of the 99 season. I grew tired of going for a uniform so I decided to go for which ever team Nick plays for. Nick cant get traded from Nick right?
That is why I'm a huge Nick fan, collecting and recording all his games that were broadcast on TV during his career and going to great lengths to increase my DVD collection now. I also own 22 different Van Exel jersey's.
I do like several players in today's NBA but none the same as I liked Nick Van Exel. I feel like Nick is my team, and by going for someone else is like a Red Sox fan going for the Yankees. Players I do like in today's game are: Nate Robinson, Steve Nash, Rajon Rondo, Aaron Brooks, Jeff Teague, Blake Griffin, Josh Smith, Antonio McDyess and Aussie Patrick Mills.