After going undrafted in the 2003 NBA draft, former Maverick Marquis Daniels developed a mindset that was crucial to his success during a 10 year NBA career. On draft night, once every team passed on him, Daniels distinctly remembers telling his mother and his brother, “I’m going to make everybody pay.”
Despite a stellar collegiate career at Auburn and NCAA tournament appearances, Daniels’ name was not called on draft night. Fortunately, when that door closed, the Mavericks came calling and offered Marquis a chance to be a part of their summer league team in 2003 before eventually signing him to a contract.
During a slow start to his career with limited minutes and opportunities to get on the floor, Marquis made sure to take advantage of every opportunity that did come his way.
“I didn’t care who it was, I was the guy whether we was up 20 or down 20, [Coach Don Nelson] was going to put me in the game then. But, within those two minutes, I’m comin out of there with 10-12 points. I’m gambling, I’m going for steals, I’m going to get every rebound. I’m going to play hard and show you that I can play in this league.”
With efficient production in limited minutes, Marquis worked his way up into the starting lineup and stayed there late during the 2004 season and throughout the entire playoffs. He performed exceptionally well during the 2004 playoffs, scoring over 15 points a game against the Mavericks’ playoff rivals, the Sacramento Kings.
His draft night proclamation proved to be a foreshadowing of what would happen just a year later, as the Mavericks rewarded him with a long term contract that made him the highest paid player of all members of the 2003 – 2004 rookie class.
“That was the blessing in disguise of not being drafted. You were able to sign a deal after your first year. Back then those guys were being locked up on 2 – 3 year deals. I think, maybe, I was the first guy to actually do that,” said Daniels.
Marquis would go on to spend two more years in a Mavericks uniform becoming an important part of the rotation in the process. However, his playing time and role in the offense changed dramatically during his time playing for Avery Johnson. Daniels eventually requested a trade following the 2006 NBA season. He spent 3 years in Indiana, spending one year under Rick Carlisle before making his way to Boston and playing for 3 more seasons with Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett. He spent his final season in Milwaukee before retiring after the 2012-2013 season.
During our conversation, Marquis touched on a variety of subjects that ranged from his time in Dallas to the latter stages of his career and dealing with a career threatening spine injury.
On the departure of Steve Nash following Daniels’ rookie season : “Steve is not a very vocal guy. He leads by example….of course you’re going to miss a guy like that….he brought so much to the table. Timely shots, the pick-n-pop game with Dirk, it was crazy.”
On a noticeable change in how Daniels was featured in Avery Johnson’s offensive strategy compared to Don Nelson’s offense in which Daniels thrived : “I’m just going to say it like this, you’re only as good as your coach thinks you are. With that being said, Coach Nelson is one of my all time favorite coaches. And some coaches, you know, they like what players bring and some coaches don’t.”
On when his career altering spine injury caused him to fall and lay motionless on the floor in a game while he was a member of the Boston Celtics : “The crazy think about that is a lot of people don’t know, that whole time on the floor I was paralyzed. I couldn’t move for 4 to 5 minutes. I was literally paralyzed.”
Daniels’ perseverance allowed him to recover from his spine surgery and eventually play 2 more seasons, accomplishing a goal he set for himself to play 10 years in the NBA as an undrafted free agent.
Today, Daniels’s focus lies on making music, training athletes in the Macon, Georgia area, and raising his children and spending time with his family. Thank you for listening, I hope you enjoy the episode. (Note : The first 30 seconds or so there was some technical difficulties and the intro did not export as loud as the rest of the interview. Feel free to skip ahead to the 0:30 mark. Thank you)
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