By Brian Taylor
Lately, the Pacific Northwest hasn’t been too kind to NBA basketball. The Portland Trailblazers are trying to buy their own house back, the Sonics may move to the OKC, and fans in Vancouver didn’t know whether to cheer or throw hats onto the floor after someone made three shots.
But back in the day, you couldn’t find a hotter place, with guys like Bill Walton (when he was in his Grateful Dead days), Clyde the Glide and Terry Porter in Portland and the Sonics going to the Finals once every other decade. Going back to those Sonics teams I saw growing up (the ones that would lose to Magic in the first round every year), even before Shawn Kemp made it reign, there was a guy who brought the pain every night for opponents, and that was ”the X-Man”, Xavier McDaniel.
Coming out of Wichita State (Shocker!) in the 1985 Ewing lottery draft, Xavier made a huge impact on the Sonics, forming, along with Tom Chambers and Jack Sikma, a west coast version of Bird/Parish/McHale. The X-Man anchored those early 80’s Sonics teams, with vicious dunks, steals and a will to smack anything going towards the hoop into next week. McDaniel’s power-based game was rewarded when he made his first (and only) All-Star appearance in 1988, starring alongside Magic and Kareem. It was in 89’ that the “X” man’s stay in Seattle would come to an end, as he was traded to Phoenix for Eddie Johnson. Shawn Kemp was coming into his own as a star, and was deemed the future of the PF position in the Emerald City.
After spending half a season in the desert, Xavier had a brief stint with the Knicks (the Mark Jackson and Trent Tucker version). At season’s end, he was on the move again, this time to Beantown, where he was expected to give the Celts a lift after Bird’s retirement.
When his time in Boston was over, McDaniel made the “Retirement World Tour”, literally as he played overseas before returning to New Jersey for his NBA swansong.
These days, the X-Man is all about the real estate, as he renovates and resells homes in the area. He also does work with his “A Better Way” foundation, and was a participant in the Sonics Legends Tour as seen here.
Xavier (who averaged 20ppg in his time as a Sonic) is definitely one of Seattle’s most revered old school players, so when you want to see where the Reignman got his thunder from, hit some links!