The X-Man Always Had to Prove How Hard He Was | New Book Sheds Light On Ejections, Erections Of Former NBA Enforcer Xavier McDaniel

Image Credit: Game screen shot

The NBA in the 1990s was like a different world.

Hard fouls were the norm, and brawls in the locker room or the hardwood were as expected as a hockey game skirmish.

However, one player virtually defined the rock ‘em, sock ‘em style of the era, and that man was Xavier McDaniel.

Wichita State “X”

As he was known to Wichita State University Shocker fans, where he played college ball, X was the first player in NCAA history to lead the nation in scoring (27.2 points per game) and rebounding (14.8 rebounds per game) as a senior in 1985.

McDaniel finished his career as the school’s all-time leading rebounder (1,359) and second in scoring (2,152). Playing for Wichita State from 1981-85, McDaniel was a first-team Associated Press and United States Basketball Writers Association All-American as a senior.

He was the Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year in 1984 and 1985. He had nine career 20-point/20-rebound games — most in school history — and led the Shockers to two NCAA Tournament appearances.

The X-Man

Frankly put, he was destined for greatness; however, once he entered the NBA, he went on a quest to establish his dominance within the league and on his teams.

McDaniel is mainly known for his Seattle SuperSonics days. He was drafted fourth overall in the first round in 1985 by the former Pacific Northwest team.

McDaniel and Sonics teammate Dale Ellis once got into a fistfight early on during the 1990-91 season. Ellis, recovering from a foot injury, was readying his season debut and McDaniel felt he came to practice unprepared.

Putting Paws On Teammates

According to reports, McDaniels told him it was unacceptable, and Ellis threw a portable telephone at McDaniel. It resulted in police being called to report a fight in which five people attempted to intervene.

He also spent time with the Boston Celtics and had a memorable one season with the New York Knicks in 1991-1992.

He was part of the last golden era for the Knicks under the direction of then-coach Pat Riley; former Georgetown standout-turned-New York icon Patrick Ewing and the strong underdog crew of Charles Oakley, Anthony Mason, and John Starks.

Making A Statement

However, in addition to getting into a fight with Mason on the first day of practice, McDaniel had other more peculiar ways of showing the team he had arrived.

In his new book “Blood in the Garden,” author Chris Herring reveals some of McDaniel’s more interesting assertions of his manhood in the locker room.

“McDaniel prioritized manhood. Specifically, his own manhood. According to McDaniels’s teammates in Seattle, he often walked around the Sonics locker room fully erect after games, hanging towels on his hardened member. Also, he fought people — and he fought them constantly.”

The Enforcer

The former NBA All-Star averaged 20 and 8 for the first five years of his career. In the 1992 NBA playoffs against the Chicago Bulls, he will forever be known as the guy who abused Scottie Pippen horribly over the seven-game series.

It was so bad that Michael Jordan interceded before the Bulls won and eventually solidified their second NBA title.

In a world of political correctness and heavy referee scrutiny, Xavier McDaniel is a reminder of a long-gone era of competitors that took no prisoners.


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Rhett Butler is a Boxing Writer Association of America Journalist, Play-By-Play Commentator, Combat Sports Insider, and Former Mixed Martial Arts and Boxing Promoter. The New York City native honed his skills at various news outlets including but not limited to: TIME Magazine, Money Magazine, CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports, and more. Rhett hosts the PRITTY Left Hook podcast, a polarizing combat sports insider's take featuring the world's biggest names.