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Nick Van Exel Was Traded From The Lakers Because Of A Bad Joke That Pissed Off Kobe Bryant And Shaquille O'Neal

Nick Van Exel Was Traded From The Lakers Because Of A Bad Joke That Pissed Off Kobe Bryant And Shaquille O'Neal

In the history of jokes in poor taste, Nick Van Exel's tops the ranking and it resulted in him getting traded from the Los Angeles Lakers in 1998. His partnership with Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal was meant to create a dynasty, but he did not play together long enough to see it materialize.

During the 1998 playoffs, the Lakers were 3-0 down against the Utah Jazz, and the entire team was determined to not get swept. After a team practice, Van Exel shouted "Cancun" in a team huddle instead of something else that would inspire the team.

Albeit being a joke, many in the organization were beyond pissed at the mindset of the guard. Shaquille O'Neal, who was in search of his first championship, was livid, concluding that Nick was ready to jump ship.

According to Los Angeles Times, Nick maintains that it was a joke attempted at reducing the tension.

"Everyone who was in that locker room with me knows I’d never give up on the team. But finger-pointing happens. I never meant anything wrong."

Even with his explanation, no one was happy with Nick, as the then GM Jerry West publicly expressed his disappointment with Nick.

"I had never heard anything in my life like that. ‘Shocked’ doesn’t begin to describe it."

Thinking about it, there was not much that would have helped his case seeing as he gave up his starting role to Derek Fisher months before that incident.

"I don’t know if he gave up on the team, but I just would have preferred him to say, ‘I’m the leader on this team, I want to start.’ I think the leader of your team has to be a leader at all times. Sometimes, he seemed not to want that responsibility."

During the offseason, the Lakers wasted no time in shipping off Nick to the Denver Nuggets in exchange for Tony Battie and Tyron Lue. The Lakers had big plans for the trio, but Nick's poorly timed joke resulted in the end of a five-year run with the purple and gold.

Two years later, Shaq and Kobe led the Lakers to three consecutive championships from 2000-2002. In 2009 and 2010, Kobe also brought two championships to Staples Center with the help of Pau Gasol. Even with how badly things ended with Nick, he remains one of the best point guards Kobe played with.