Danny Seigle was a junior at Wagner College in New York when the possibility of playing professional basketball in the Philippines was opened up to him. At the time, it was a path that his brother, Andy, had already taken. Andy was also one of the voices, the other being their father, John Charles, telling Danny to check out the Philippine Basketball Association.
After graduating from Wagner the next year, he was signed by the San Miguel Beermen as a direct hire in 1999. It was the birth of a partnership that bore endless fruits of success. San Miguel won a total of seven PBA titles with Seigle on board. Danny was also awarded with multiple individual accolades. Though Seigle also suited up for the Air21, Barako Bull and Talk 'N Text franchises, he is fondly remembered for the impact and the achievements he made as a San Miguel Beermen.
Now a team consultant with Alab Pilipinas and a member of the coaching staff of the De La Salle Green Archers, Seigle recalls his best memories from playing the in the PBA.
What would you consider as your best seasons in the PBA?
The period of 1999 to 2001 is where I feel I was at my personal best. I won a record setting 4 finals MVPs and Rookie of the Year award, which I attribute to our team's success. We competed in almost every post season. We reached the Finals seven times in that stretch, and that took me to a different playing level that elevated my game in order to deliver for the team. This resulted in our winning five titles in that three-year period, which to me represented my peak performance because what mattered in the end is that we won.
Was there any specific moment in 1999 that remains fresh in your memory?
My rookie year and first championship against Shell in 1999 was the most memorable. San Miguel had ended a five-year title drought, everyone was ecstatic, and it was quite the celebration. Getting all that love from fans, media, and especially management, gave me a taste of how it was being at the top and i was chasing that feeling for the rest of my career. It was the start of one of those so called "special teams" that is remembered in history. Aside from that, it was the most competitive year that I would play in the next 17 years.
Direct hires flooded the league with talented guys including Eric Menk, Asi Taulava, Al Segova, Rob Parker, Sonny Alvarado. And local legends like Nelson Asaytono, Jeffrey Cariaso, Johnny Abarrientos, Benjie Paras, Vergel Meneses and Alvin Patrimonio, just to name a few. Admittedly, I was a little star struck playing against those guys because I had a great deal of respect for them. But if you're a fierce competitor, you will go out to try and knock them off their pedestal. That's the generational cycle and playing in that level of competition definitely made me better and kept that fire burning in me for many years to come.
Are there other seasons in your career that you would consider memorable?
In 2002, I underwent three surgeries: two on my left foot for ruptured achilles and one on my right for bones spurs. This was an unnerving time in my life because it presented much uncertainty and doubt about my future as a professional athlete. Back then, a serious injury like that was career-threatening.
The rehab I endured was extreme and it took 16 long months before I was cleared to be back on the court playing again. Through it all, I never lost sight of what my goals were. With perseverance, patience and faith, I was able to overcome that adversity and came out much stronger - both physically and mentally - and was raring to compete once more. The hard work paid off because I produced some of my best statistical years. I averaged 17 points per game in 2004, 20 points in 2005, and my all-time personal high of 22 points and 8 rebounds in 2006-2007. That year was my record breaking 19 consecutive games of scoring 20 or more. It was arguably my best season, especially numbers-wise. Though we got eliminated in the semis and that cast a shadow on things for me when assessing my best year. Still, what I achieved despite the injury was undoubtedly one of my career highlights.
Prior to coming to Manila, what were your expectations of Philippine basketball?
My expectations somewhat changed when I first learned about the option to play in the Philippines. I remember the conversations I would have with my father and brother back then. I was still playing at a high level in Division 1 basketball in the US. I was a junior and already selected first team all-conference, so I was speaking with a lot of confidence. I could sense some concern in both their voices that I may be taking the competition in the PBA lightly, so they bought me a plane ticket to see it first-hand.
They were right. It was not how I previously perceived it be. The league was actually more advanced than I thought. I was impressed with the local talent, their skill level and the game style which was significantly different. It was more physical. There was a lot of excitement after that trip and I got extra motivated that summer. I tweaked my approach by dedicating all my energy and focus to training. That adjustment heightened my preparation for my last collegiate season, which resulted in having my most productive year and finishing off as Wagner's 5th All-Time leading scorer and 2014 Hall of Fame induction.
When you first came into the league, did you ever think that you would play for as long as you did?
No, I didn't think my longevity in the game was going to stretch that long. Guys were retiring early to mid 30's so I thought that age would be the norm or standard. But I have always been fueled by tough challenges and difficult situations which kept me going. I had another serious hurdle to overcome at the age of 32 that involved a disc removal from my back. Again, I would undergo another year of rehab and just like before, I came back out armed with a lot of personal growth and maturity aside from my physical healing. Realizing that the mileage in my body was piling up, I conditioned my mind to be more consistent on the court in considerably less minutes. Efficiency is what you should strive for as a player (and what you eventually preach as a coach).
And so I played another 8 years. And it was during that time that I slowly transitioned into performing different roles of mentoring younger talent, giving perspective on game plans and being the bridge between management, coaches, players, and staff. All these gave me a different sense of fulfillment.