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That time Xavier McDaniel beat up his teammate because he came to practice 'unprepared'

Xavier McDaniel & Dale Ellis

Xavier McDaniel once got into a fight with his teammate Dale Ellis

Xavier McDaniel and Dale Ellis once got into a fistfight early on during the 1990-91 season because McDaniel didn't appreciate how Ellis came to practice unprepared.

McDaniel was upset Ellis came to practice unprepared

The Seattle Supersonics had a decent squad in the late '80s and early '90s, but like many teams, they looked better on paper than they did in reality. That team had an interesting mix between experienced veterans and young players like Shawn Kemp and Gary Payton, who would later become the team's leaders. The Supersonics had Xavier McDaniel on the roster, a very intense personality, not afraid to confront the opposing players or even his teammates if they weren't performing on the level he expected.

McDaniel held others accountable, and one time it resulted in a physical altercation with Dale Ellis during practice when they got into a serious fight. Ellis was recovering from a foot injury and getting ready to make his season debut. Apparently, he came to practice one day unprepared, which didn't sit well with McDaniel, who immediately told him that is not acceptable by any means. Ellis didn't appreciate the criticism, so he threw a portable telephone at McDaniel, which was probably that old-school brick-sized cell phone. Remember we are talking about the year 1990.

According to Seattle Times, at the time, the police got involved after someone called them to report a fight in which five people attempted to intervene and stop the whole mess. No one was arrested, and no charges were filled, but one witness said Ellis got hurt more during that brutal exchange.

Ellis was suspended for five games while McDaniel did not miss any time on the hardwood and, in an interview, said that things like these happen when teams are struggling. Pretty

"Every team goes through problems. Some teams can deal with it; some teams can't. I think when you look around the league, when teams play well, no one ever talks about all the disruption unless you play bad, but we know what we gotta do, and we have a job to do. It's just a matter of us going out and doing it."

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Sonics GM at the time, Bob Whitsitt, talked about the actions done by the team in disciplining Ellis but emphasized he would return to the lineup despite the incident.

"We talked to the people involved and the people who saw it," said Sonics GM Bob Whitsitt, "and based on the facts we gathered we made what we deemed the appropriate disciplinary action. We hope to have Dale back in uniform when he comes off the injured list."

They both got traded from the Supersonics

Ellis had several off-court problems at the time that affected his career. In January of 1990, he was DUI and was involved in a car crash that left him with broken ribs and collapsed lungs. On top of that, he was charged with a domestic disturbance in 1989 and sued twice for vehicular incidents in 1988. He was also arrested with one of his teammates after a brawl in a bar during the 1987 playoffs. Several Supersonics teammates didn't appreciate Ellis' and the way he conducted off the court because it impacted his performance on the court.

Interestingly enough, a few weeks after the incident with McDaniel, the Supersonics decided to trade McDaniel instead because Ellis had no trade value at all. Instead, he was traded to the Phoenix Suns for Eddie Johnson and two first-round picks. In the end, they traded Ellis as well in February later that season for Ricky Pearce.

After that moment, both of their careers were kind of similar in terms of length and importance. After San Antonio, Ellis changed a few other teams, same as McDaniel, and both had solid backup roles for their respective teams. They were both controversial individuals, but when you look at their careers, they experienced professionals that had pretty long NBA careers. On the other hand, Supersonics started their rebuilding process, giving more opportunity to Kemp and Payton. They eventually became the leaders of that team, making it one of the most iconic squads in the '90s.

Players during that period had a different mindset than today, and times were much more different where; for incidents like that one, in today's era, they would have much more exposure and therefore worse punishment than what they both receive. Even though you could also argue getting traded is terrible enough since that happened to them eventually when the Supersonics management made their decision.


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