NBA/Spurs2005.08.31 01:41
Buck Harvey: Nick Van Spur? The way to change
Web Posted: 08/30/2005 12:00 AM CDT

San Antonio Express-News

"My bad reputation," Nick Van Exel once lamented, "will never go away."

But he said that unaware he someday would have a chance to connect with Tim Duncan. To work in Gregg Popovich's system. To win a title.

His bad reputation?

It's in danger this season.

Van Exel didn't become a Spur on Monday to change his image. He wants to win, and this is a good match for both parties. Michael Finley might not fit as well.

Still, his reputation is a subplot to this signing, because Van Exel is a contrast to the league's model franchise. The last time the Spurs and Van Exel were on the floor together, in January, told of that. Then Van Exel was ejected.

Another time, he was suspended seven games for pushing a ref. Another time, he flashed an obscene gesture in, coincidentally, San Antonio. Another time, TV cameras caught him in a huddle yelling at then-Lakers coach Del Harris.

Then there's the story Shaquille O'Neal repeated in his autobiography. During the 1998 playoffs, when the Lakers were one game away from being swept by Utah, the players gathered for a huddle after practice. They put their hands together and did the ritual cheer, "1-2-3, team."

But instead of saying "Team," Van Exel yelled out "Cancun!"

Popovich strangles over less.

Van Exel has earned his image. He has been an angry player who, when frustrated, will say or do almost anything. He has said as much.

"Sure, I'm angry and moody and evil," he once said. "But only on the basketball court. I want to win so bad, I'm angry at everyone. I've got to get mad so I can perform well. But for me, a bad guy is someone who carries that anger into their personal life. And I don't do that. Nobody can say that about me."

This — and the minimal investment — is why he makes sense for the Spurs. If his knees hold up, he can provide the bench scoring the Spurs need, as well as the edgy attitude of a Mario Elie.

But Elie played on winners before he came to the Spurs, and so he was known as outspoken yet professional. Van Exel has played on losers for most of his career, and losing has brought out the worst in him.

At every stop he'd try to explain himself, sometimes talking about his tough childhood, usually pledging to be better. Twice — when he arrived in Dallas and later Portland — he announced a new Nick had replaced the old.

"Now if I don't like someone, I won't be as quick to talk about them," Van Exel once said, citing his newfound maturity. "Like George Karl. I'm not a big George Karl fan, so if somebody comes up to me and asks me what I think about George Karl not making the playoffs, I wouldn't say, 'Oh, I'm glad, I hate that guy.' I'd be a little more subtle."

Classic Van Exel. Subtly, he made sure everyone knew he didn't like Karl.

Given that, Van Exel and Popovich will likely exchange words over the course of a long season. Given that, Van Exel will challenge a few Spurs in the locker room, too.

But how much of a negative will it be? The Mavericks wondered the same when they considered trading for Van Exel in 2002. Then they went to Harris to ask if they should make the deal.

"I told them," Harris said then, "that there have been a lot of bad things that have been floated around about Nick over the years, some of them true, others not. But he is not a bad guy. Regardless of what you've heard, he'll give you 20 points, he'll play hard. He's really not a bad guy."

Chris Webber went further. He called Van Exel the "heart and soul" of those Mavericks, and Portland likely thought the same in a first-round series in 2003. Then, in Game 7, Van Exel had 26 points and made 5 of 6 shots in the fourth quarter to beat the Blazers.

By the time the Mavericks played the Spurs in the Western Conference finals that season, Dirk Nowitzki, Finley and Steve Nash showed rare respect. They deferred to Van Exel.

Van Exel was happy and with a winner, but then came a double-cross. When the Mavericks traded for Van Exel, Mark Cuban promised Van Exel he would guarantee the final year of the contract he had negotiated in Denver, a season worth $12,831,000. But after that playoff series against the Spurs, the Mavericks traded Van Exel to the Warriors.

The contract was someone else's problem. Van Exel? He was back playing for losers. When Portland released him this summer, opting not to pay the final year on his contract, it was the $12 million that Cuban had not guaranteed.

Now Van Exel has agreed to play for a fraction of his old salary. He's also fully aware there will be nights when Popovich chooses not to play him.

Has a new Nick replaced the old?

There's never been a better chance.

닉 밴 엑셀, 닉 밴 스퍼. ㅋㅋㅋ 말 장난이 좀 심하네요. 자동차의 액셀이 아닌 박차라. -_-;

저는 여러번 밝혀 왔지만 대럴 암스트롱의 영입을 원했습니다만, 댈러스와의 끈을 스퍼스가 중간에 끊기는 꽤나 어려웠었나봅니다. 워낙 안정된 이미지와, 지난 피닉스와의 플옵에서 보여준 그 박력 넘치는 수비, 거기다 드래프트에 징명 받지 못했던 선수들이 보여주는 알 수 없는 끈적 끈적함 까지 스퍼스에 여러모로 도움이 될 거란 생각을 갖게 했던 선수였습니다. 무엇 보다도 토니 파커의 좋은 맨터가 될 수 있을 거란 생각이었죠.

토니 파커의 경기 운영에 대한 비난이 많지만, 사실 그가 팀에 들어왔을 때 팀의 스타팅 1번은 다름 아닌 AD 였습니다. 퓨어 포가도, 그렇다고 듀얼도 아닌 역시나 어정쩡하디 어정쩡한, 결국엔 신인인 파컹게 밀려 트레이드 까지 된 선수였으니 사실 파커가 보고 배울 건 별로 없는 선수였습니다. 그 후 파커는 커리어 내내 자신이 팀의 리딩 가드가 되었고, 팀 시스템은 그에게 리딩이란 짐을 애시당초 지우질 않았습니다. 다른 팀 처럼 포인트 가드가 공격의 시스템을 결정, 운영하는 것이 아닌, 팀이란 운영체제게 결정한 사항을 따르는 이상의 몫은 없었습니다.

이런 그에게 대럴은 좋은 스승이 되어 그를 이끌어 줄 수 있을 거란 기대였는데, 달라스와의 재계약 소식을 들었을 때 작은 오닐이 페이서스와 재계약 한다란 소식을 들었을 때만큼의 아쉬움을 느꼈었습니다.



그리고 이제 닉더퀵을 데려왔습니다. 물론 조난 좋은 선수는 아니지만, 훌륭한 점퍼를 장착했고, 큰 경기에서 쫄지 않을 정도의 담력과 경험을 가진 배테랑 중 배테랑인 선수입니다. 스퍼스가 우승하던 02-03시즌 때 위기에 처하던 팀을 속공 런닝 3점이란 어이 없는 슛들로 서부 결승 까지 이끌었던, 하지만 스퍼스와의 경기에서 연거푸 삽을 들어, 로베르토 바조가 그랬던 것 처럼 어제의 영웅이 오늘의 역적이 되었던 선수이죠. 어쩌면 역시나 리딩에 대한 부담 없이, 동료들의 스크린을 타고 안정적인 점퍼를 날릴 수 있는 스퍼스는 닉더퀵 개인에게 가장 어울리는 팀일지도 모르겠습니다. 더욱이 자신의 처음이자 마지막 우승을 할 수 있을 팀이기도 하고요.

하지만 파커는 저 아저씨를 보고 뭘 배울지 심히 걱정됩니다. -_-;;;; ( 심판 밀기 -_-? 속공에서 런닝 3점 -_-?)


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