But there have been a number of great Lakers over the years who will never have their numbers retired but they deserve recognition - call them the Lakers' Forgotten Studs.
Today's installment: Nick Van Exel
From a Rookie With Swagger to an All-Star
Nickey V was selected by the Lakers in the second round (37th overall) of the 1993 NBA draft.
Few second rounders go on to be stars, but the 6'1" guard from Cincinnati entered the league with swagger.
Van Exel started as a rookie in 1994 and made the All-Rookie 2nd Team. In 1998, his final season in Los Angeles, Nick Van Exel became an NBA All-Star.
The Lakers missed the playoffs in his rookie season but made the postseason in each of the next four, advancing as far as the Western Conference Finals in 1998.
While the Lakers never won a title during his time in Los Angeles, Nick Van Exel was one of the main reasons they continued as playoff contenders. In five years with the Lakers Nick the Quick averaged the following:
Nick Van Exel, 1994-1998: 14.9 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 7.3 APG, 1.0 SPG
Over this five-year span, Van Exel was among the NBA's most productive guards. In fact, only six other players in the NBA matched his averages in points, rebounds, and assists from 1994-1998.
Nick the Quick was an elite guard during his time in Los Angeles.
The Assist & 3-Point Machine
In his five seasons with the Lakers, Nickey V finished among the NBA's Top-10 in 3-point field goals three times - 1994 (10th), 1995 (7th), and 1997 (8th).
Van Exel's 1,528 career 3-pointers rank 14th on the NBA's all-time list.
But Van Exel also set up his teammates, finishing sixth in the league in assists in 1995 (8.2 APG) and eighth in 1997 (8.5 APG). His 5,777 career assists rank 33rd on the NBA's all-time list.
The Unforgettable Swagger
But as a Lakers fan my favorite part of Nick Van Exel's game was his swagger.
I lived in Salt Lake City, Utah in the 1990's surrounded by rabid Utah Jazz fans. Nick the Quick was among the most reviled NBA players among Jazz fans and nothing delighted me more than watching him hit a big 3-pointer and silence the Jazz crowd.
Van Exel's go-to swagger move after hitting a big shot on the road was to "lower the roof" (the opposite of raising the roof), something that always fired me up. Just watch this buzzer-beater clip without getting chills.
While the Lakers in the mid-to-late nineties were not particularly memorable due to the lack of titles, there were still awesome Lakers players who should not be forgotten.
Nick Van Exel - and his trademark swagger - is a Laker I will never forget.
Andrew Sweat is a die-hard Lakers fan. For more from this author, visit Andrew's archive or check these out articles:
- Sports & Recreation
- Los Angeles Lakers
- Nick Van Exel