Friday, August 8

Xavier McDaniel, pt.2

(photo courtesy of Michael Richardson. See also the X vs. Bennett version.)

Xavier McDaniel was my first superstar man-crush. Sure, I worshiped Julius Erving, but by the time I was old enough to go to a game, Dr. J was already in his Spalding comic book ads / “The Fish That Saved Pittsburg” era. Besides, Erving belonged to another city far away. In the early eighties we had . . . Sikma. Then X arrived.

In 1985, Xavier McDaniel was new. He was hip. He was on the cover of “The Rocket”! He was the Mr.T of Seattle basketball. After the rapid decline following the championship year, X-man was our b-ball savior, set to bring us back to the Promised Land.

It didn’t quite work out that way. It turns out bad-ass small forwards with sweet turnarounds and mean left hooks aren’t the magic ingredients for a championship. X had some tough years. But then, there was 1987. My favorite year in Sonics history. The pundits didn’t think we had a single good player on that team. They were right. We had three.

Tom Chambers, Dale Ellis and Xavier McDaniel formed the mightiest three-headed, ball-hogging, shoot the lights out monster Seattle has ever seen. The Sonics barely snuck into the playoffs, but they managed to knock-out the best team in the west, the Mavericks, then beat the twin towers of Houston in a nail-bitter. And what did our boys get as a reward? The chance to face the showtime Lakers. Ugh. Let's skip that part.

X was the heart of that team, and in that brief era between Gus and Griffey, he was the biggest star in Seattle.

Some things you might not know about X:

- He provided motion capture moves for NBA Jam 2000 (!) for the N64

- He was on Married with Children

- He's not very good at tennis

Essential Xavier McDaniel links:

X-man in Singles

X-man's college highlights

X-man at the (sniff-sniff) Save Our Sonics rally

More X-man videos


Anonymous said...

Here's one for you - leading up to the 1985 draft, there was a lot of talk in Seattle about how the Sonics should take local boy Detlef Schrempf with the #4 pick instead of McDaniel. In fact, I seem to recall quite a few folks being pissed at the Sonics for passing up Det for X.

In a weird sort of way, those people might have been right. Did you know Det played more minutes in a Sonic jersey than X did? I know, it shocked me, too. He also scored more points in his NBA career, played more games, and lasted a heckuva lot longer than McDaniel.

Hey, I'm not saying that Det would've been the right pick (this is the X-Man were talking about!), but it wasn't so far off as you might have thought circa 1988.

Anonymous said...

X is my all time Sonics fav. '87 playoffs were one of my favorite times as a fan. Double OT vs the Dream - killa dilla!