Lakers I Miss: 90s Backcourt Duo

Phillip Barnett —  November 23, 2011

The lockout has me not only missing the NBA, but missing the backcourt that forced me to fall in love with the Lakers: Eddie Jones and Nick Van Exel. I was born into a Lakers loving family, so I would have been a fan regardless, but Jones and Van Exel are why I’m so heavily invested in the Forum Blue and Gold. With Thanksgiving set to take place tomorrow, I just want to let you guys know that I’m thankful for the influence Eddie Jones and Nick Van Exel had on my hoops fandom.

Phillip Barnett


to Lakers I Miss: 90s Backcourt Duo

  1. Weren’t those teams fun? No expectations to succeed, just jab-jab-jab from Van Exel, and Eddie Jones swift and smooth. Pat Riley called that stage of a team the “innocent climb” – when no one thinks you’ll win, no pressure, just the joy of a young team axing nicks out of the timber of the big teams.

    Probably more conflicted of a fan over Nick Van Exel than any other player. Bad attitude, terrible shot selection, awful FG%. But he was our fighter, our psychic motor – when he nailed a dagger 3 pointer, and gave us the boxer air-jabs, the “Lake Show” was ablaze.

    Thanks for the memories.


  2. I don’t know why, but I always thought Nick Van Excel looked like a shifty peeping Tom.


  3. Hearing Chick’s voice in the Eddie Jones video was just a wonderful memory of how he would broadcast Laker games. The time after Showtime was interesting indeed, I remember Magic saying that the Lakers never had a pogo stick like Eldin Campbell before, and Eddie with Nick the quick were awesome.


  4. @Ford Van Exel was all of those bad things, but he was straight up the heart and soul of that team. And aside from his obvious negatives, I had a lot of respect for Van Exel.

    He just had so much passion and just never struck me as the prima donna type the way Ceballos did. And while his shot selection was oftentimes notsogood he was clutch as heck and was absolutely fearless.

    And I always felt that he was underrated as a PG. Without looking at stats my recollection was that he was like 3-1 assist to turnovers (or better) and averaged more than 7 a game despite an obvious desire to be a gunner. Not a Stockton to be sure, but I was always impressed by that precisely because I felt like it was not in the least bit natural for him.

    But by far my favorite player was Jones. If he had a fault it was unselfishness. I always had the sense that if he had been more of a Kobe style driven personality he might have worked his way into a Hall of Fame career despite his slender frame. Regardless, he was the best player in the Lake Show, and if there is one thing I will always fault Kobe for, its being a better SG and forcing the Lakers to trade Eddie to free up the position.


  5. Nick, the quick with flying Eddie are great back court duo, unfortunately they were with the Lakers at the wrong time, got Harris/Rambis as coaches plus Vlade, Elden and Rooks as Centers, they had a dismal memories as Lakers. On the other picture, Phil Jackson as great Coach as he is, could not improve a sensational playground player from Fordham U, yes that’s the turkey PG, William Henry “Smush” Parker.

    In a nutshell, the season hasn’t yet but we already forgot the forgettable new Coach Mike Brown. Will he rewind back the 90’s performance in the next three seasons?


  6. Thanks for the memories.

    Don – yes, sometimes Nick had a bit of an attitude and took some questionable shots, but as Thomas said, he was absolutely the heart of the team. He had the heart of a lion. He was fearless down the clutch. He took an awful lot of good shots too and really his petulance was small potatoes compared to some. I think if anything, his petulance came from frustration and desire to succeed.

    Eddie was…well, he’s a couple years older than me and I never appreciated him as much as I should have at the time. His dunking was astonishing. He was a quick defender, he was a great outside shooter and you couldn’t ask for a better teammate. I think Pat Riley’s description of the team as being in an “innocent climb” is certainly apt. I remember not the slightest worry about cheering for the team at that time. One hoped they’d win, but it wasn’t surprising if they didn’t. Winning 48 or 46 or 49 games was great and if one got to the second round of the playoffs, that was wonderful too. However, one couldn’t really expect them to do much better than that so it was a time of diminished (and more easily attainable) expectations.

    As always, thanks for these posts on the teams of the past – and I hope all the authors and commenters of the blog had a great Thanksgiving. And if you aren’t in the US, I hope you had a good Thursday.