The 6'7" shooting guard was one of the most sought-after recruits in the nation during the 1986-87 recruiting cycle. At the time, he was considered the most talented player from New York City since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. However, he'd attended five high schools in three states, and could not read above a third-grade level.
He eventually wound up at UNLV and was slated to play for legendary coach Jerry Tarkanian. One of Tarkanian's assistants, Mark Warkentien, became Daniels' legal guardian, and got him admitted to Mt. San Antonio College, a junior college near Los Angeles, to improve his academics. However, on February 9, 1987, Daniels was arrested for buying crack cocaine from an undercover policeman. Although Tarkanian was known for taking in troubled players, this was too much even for him, and he announced days after the arrest that Daniels would never play for UNLV. It later emerged that Daniels had first been led to UNLV by Richard Perry, who had been convicted twice for sports bribery. Perry's involvement resulted in an NCAA investigation that ultimately forced Tarkanian to resign.
Daniels bounced around in the professional ranks for the next six years, and went through drug rehabilitation three times. In 1988, he was kicked off the Continental Basketball Association's Topeka Sizzlers for not staying in shape. He signed with a team in New Zealand shortly after that, only to be thrown off the team for heavy drinking. On May 11, 1989, Daniels was shot three times in the chest and survived. He still has fragments of a bullet lodged in his right shoulder.
Tarkanian kept up with Daniels over the years. After high school, Daniels played in the GBA (where he was named MVP in his only season), the New Zealand Basketball Association, CBA, the USBL, and also in Greece with AEK Athens BC and in Turkey with Galatasaray. After Tarkanian was named head coach of the San Antonio Spurs for the 1992-93 season, Daniels signed with the Spurs as a free agent.
Before he signed with the Spurs, the New York Knicks were the first NBA team to express an interest in him, but declined to sign him after flying him in for a tryout during the off-season. Daniels worked hard to get himself into NBA playing shape during the summer league, and was named the Spurs starting point guard during the preseason. Indeed, Daniels had an inspired performance against the Knicks in the preseason, dominating his hometown team with 30 points in his first game on the Spurs home court, and electrifying the crowd. In a New York Times article the next day, Tarkanian noted that a Knick scout had told him after Daniels' tryout with the Knicks that he "can't play." Despite that, Daniels graciously told reporters after the game that he appreciated the opportunity that the Knicks gave him and sounded happy finally to have the opportunity to shine in the NBA. Daniels first few months in the NBA showed that he could play with the best in the world despite all of the hurdles had overcome to get there. In only his second NBA game, he had 26 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals, and 3 block shots, demonstrating his skill and versatility. However after Tarkanian was fired twenty games into the season, Daniels' playing time diminished, though he did score over 20 points 6 times during the course of the season. Daniels played one more season with the Spurs before he was let go.
Daniels managed to play intermittently over five seasons for six NBA teams: the San Antonio Spurs, Philadelphia 76ers, Los Angeles Lakers, Sacramento Kings, New Jersey Nets and Toronto Raptors. He had several shocking comebacks, including a stint with the Lakers for the 1994-95 season. Signed to a 10-day contract, he took over a tight game, scoring 20 points in the second half to lead the Lakers to victory. He ended up in the Lakers starting lineup for about 14 games that year after that outburst and finished the season with the team.
Later in his professional career, after dominating play in the CBA, the Raptors signed him to a ten-day contract and he scored 22 points in his first game with the team. Despite his obvious offensive skills, he was forever considered an off court risk and an undisciplined player, and could not find a permanent home in the NBA. Overall, Daniels played in 200 NBA games and scored 1,411 points. He played in Italy with Scavolini Pesaro in 1995/96 season with an average of 21.6 ppg.
Daniels continued to play exhibition games for charity, joining the Jayson Williams Foundation and its exhibition team which played games across the United States. In these games, he played alongside Jayson Williams, Walter Berry and Vladimir Cuk.
|1986-87||Mt. San Antonio||—||---||17,5||12,0||4,5|
|1991-92||Greensboro City Gaters||GBA*||---||24,3||---||---|
|1991-92||Long Island Surf||USBL||---||---||---||---|
|1992-93||San Antonio Spurs||NBA||20,4||9,1||2,8||1,9|
|1993-94||San Antonio Spurs||NBA||15,1||5,7||1,7||1,4|
|1994-95||Los Angeles Lakers||NBA||21,6||7,4||2,2||1,4|
|1994-95||Fort Wayne Fury||CBA||42,8||27,3||5,9||7,4|
|1996-97||New Jersey Nets||NBA||16,6||5,4||2,3||1,5|
|1996-97||Fort Wayne Fury||CBA||38,9||24,5||5,3||5,3|
|1997-98||Polluelos de Aibonito||Puerto Rico||---||27,5||6,6||4,9|
|1998-99||Polluelos de Aibonito||Puerto Rico||---||23,9||6,8||5,1|
|1998-99||Sioux Falls Skyforce||CBA||---||---||---||---|
|1999-00||Trenton Sh. Stars||IBL||---||---||---||---|
|2000-01||Long Island Surf||USBL||---||---||---||---|
|2000-01||Tampa Bay T-Dawgs||USBL||---||---||---||---|
|2000-01||Panteras de Miranda||Venezuela||---||---||---||---|
|2001-02||Long Island Surf||USBL||---||---||---||---|
|2001-02||Rida Scafati||Italy - Lega 2||26,3||8,3||5,3||1,8|
|2002-03||Panteras de Miranda||Venezuela||---||---||---||---|
|2005-06||Strong Island Sound||ABA||---||---||---||---|
- Daniels Critical After Shooting - New York Times
- SPORTS PEOPLE: BASKETBALL; Daniels Is Trying For Another Comeback - New York Times
- SPORTS PEOPLE: BASKETBALL; Lloyd Daniels's Next Stop: Long Island - New York Times
- MySA.com: Courtside: The San Antonio Spurs Blog