It may have been a disappointing end to an otherwise encouraging season, but New Orleans Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry found time for a joke after his team was eliminated by the Golden State Warriors.
At the tail end of a press conference in which he said, “Even losing to the champs, you’ve got to be disappointed,” Gentry offered a tip of the cap to former Los Angeles Lakers guard Nick Van Exel:
Alvin Gentry – "what is it? 1, 2, 3 Cancun?" pic.twitter.com/pisqYvUTi6
— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) May 9, 2018
“What is it?” Gentry said in a monotone voice, “1-2-3 … Cancun?”
When the Lakers were on the verge of being swept from the Western Conference finals by the Utah Jazz, Van Exel shouted the phrase from a team huddle at the end of a practice before Game 4 in 1998, much to the chagrin of Shaquille O’Neal and other teammates, according to The Los Angeles Times.
O’Neal and the “Inside the NBA” crew has since adopted the phrase when they bid teams adieu once they have been ousted from the playoffs. Gentry might have even seen the crew sending the Portland Trail Blazers off to a Mexican vacation when they were swept out of the first round by his Pelicans:
The chant helped earn Van Exel a trade to the Denver Nuggets the following offseason, just before Shaq led the Lakers to three consecutive NBA titles. It seems like a safe bet the Pelicans will keep Gentry around for another run, since he steered the Pelicans to the conference semifinals after they lost DeMarcus Cousins, and the coach can only hope this vacation spurs another dynastic run.
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