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