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The Importance of Nick Van Exel and His Game Winner Against the Boston Celtics in 1995

Ara is a journalism graduate from California State University, Northridge, who is always looking to explore his writing opportunities.


Nick Van Exel: A Skilled Point Guard That May Be Forgotten

Nick Van Exel is one of those basketball players that may now be unfortunately forgotten by basketball fans. This quick point guard became famous for his years spent as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team. I grew up a Los Angeles Lakers fan while starting to watch them play during the “Showtime era.” The 1994-1995 Lakers really did not have a superstar caliber player but they had a unit of guys that really clicked and played well together.

A Summary of This Lakers Versus Celtics Regular Season Game

On January 20, 1995, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics would face each other for the very last time at the famous Boston Garden. The Los Angeles Lakers due to their solid play built a 62-48 lead by the half. But in the third quarter due to turnovers, the Boston Celtics even with older veteran players such as Xavier Mcdaniel and Dominique Wilkins would get back into the game. Forward Eddie Jones who was then a rookie having been picked by the Los Angeles Lakers in the draft, was known for his electrifying slam dunks and Nick Van Exel was skilled at setting up fast break opportunities. Lakers play by play announcer Francis Dayle “Chick Hearn” frequently praised Nick Van Exel for his basketball skills, calling him a complete point guard who was getting better and growing by the inch even though that may have sounded like it was redundant.

The game remained hard fought and close until late when the Los Angeles Lakers made a superb defensive play on Rick Fox who was attempting a three pointer. There was a length of the court pass to Tony Smith who missed what looked like an easy layup attempt. Then, Nick Van Exel and Boston point guard David Wesly were trying to track down the basketball when it was knocked out of bounds. The replay showed that although Wesley touched the ball last, the referees awarded possession to the Boston Celtics. Dino Radja then rebounded his missed shot giving the Boston Celtics a slim one point lead.

Chick Hearn Calls the Game Winning Shot by Nick Van Exel

The Game Winning Shot by Nick Van Exel & Its Importance

With 2.4 seconds remaining, the ball was inbounded to Nick who turned around and had his back to the basket and he somehow made the shot in spite of the fact that he was pretty well defended. This game winner was important because Nick would once again help the Los Angeles Lakers in that postseason when he would make a huge three pointer against the San Antonio Spurs in Game 5 of that year’s Conference Semifinals to give the Lakers a huge win and extend the series for one more game. Even though this game winning shot is not as important as John Stockton’s buzzer beater against the Houston Rockets or Derek Fisher’s 0.4 second shot against these same San Antonio Spurs years later, the game winner by Nick Van Exel stands out to me as one of the best game winners in any sport because of the way that it was done and the person who made the basket.

Memorable Quote by Los Angeles Lakers Announcer Chick Hearn About Nick Van Exel's Game Winner

"It's into Van Exel, he fires it'll count if it goes it went, it went ,it went!!!"

© 2019 Ara Vahanian


Ara Vahanian (author) from LOS ANGELES on September 03, 2019:

Oh my goodness! I didn't think someone was going to leave a comment on this written piece so I am grateful that it did happen! Yes, Nick Van Excel was a great point guard who unfortunately didn't get enough credit for what he did because other point guards like John Stockton were more well known. This 1994-1995 Los Angeles Lakers team probably did not have a true superstar player on it but these guys excelled as a unit. And what can I say about Chick Hearn? Best basketball commentator ever! He is so missed and i really miss him sometimes! Thanks again for taking the time to read this and leave a comment!

John Slobodien from Los Angeles, CA on September 03, 2019:

Nick the quick was a great player! Also hearing Chick Hearn brought back so many great memories of this team!

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