On Monday, Mike Douty, the sports information director at North Platte Community College, sent me a note that he was working on a feature about a former Knight who had played in the NCAA Tournament.
He asked me if we were interested in the story, and of course I said, “Yes.”
Wednesday, Mike sent the story over with a photo he had received from the University of Portland where Lamont Daniels had moved on to after he played with the Knights.
I saved the photo and edited the story and started slapping things into my InDesign document for Thursday’s paper. When I got to writing the cutline — caption to most of you — I started wondering to myself if I could figure out what game this came from because the only indication I had was that it was from 1995.
I looked at the photo again and clearly in the background was a Santa Clara player who vaguely looked familiar.
I went over to sports-reference.com — if you don’t have it bookmarked, you should — and started looking up when Portland played Santa Clara when Daniels was there. Daniels is in white, so it’s more probable than not that it was a home game.
In 1994-95 and 1995-96, the two years Daniels played for Portland, the Pilots played Santa Clara at home at the Chiles Center on Jan. 21, 1995, and Feb. 22, 1996.
I glanced at the photo again.
“Hey,” I thought to myself, “Isn’t that about the time Steve Nash was at Santa Clara? That looks a little like Steve Nash in the background.”
So I shot off a quick email to Mike. He agreed, it looks like Steve Nash. Nash played guard, so he’d be about the same height as Daniels. Sure enough he wore 11 and had black hair. That’s Steve Nash.
For the few of you unfamiliar with Steve Nash, he would become one of the best players of his generation, leading the Broncos to NCAA tournament wins in 1993 and 1996 then going on to play 18 seasons in the NBA, winning two league MVP awards.
About an hour later, the SID at Santa Clara got back to Mike: “That’s Steve Nash.”
What a small world.
Daniels led the Pilots to the NCAA tournament in 1996 and played two years in the West Coast Conference alongside Nash. He went on to play in Australia and lives in Arkansas now.
There were several other players in the West Coast Conference that year that would get cups of coffee in the NBA. Marlon Garnett played on the same Santa Clara team as Steve Nash — he would play 24 games in 1999 with the Celtics. Gerald Brown, who played for Pepperdine in 1995-96, played 33 games in 1999 with the Suns.
You can read Mike's story and see the photo here.