View Full Version : It's a Wrap

04-16-2002, 08:37 PM
Majerle takes floor final time Wednesday

Associated Press

PHOENIX -- Dan Majerle came out of Central Michigan in 1988 as a suspect shooter with a history of injuries.

On Wednesday night, he will end his NBA career after 14 seasons. He has made 1,354 3-pointers. Only four players have more.

"It's been a real nice career for me," Majerle said. "I really didn't know how long I'd play in this league. I signed a five-year deal coming out of college just to have security."

Majerle's last game will, fittingly, be played at America West Arena, scene of some of his greatest moments in front of the fans who booed his selection in the draft but came to adore him.

His first seven seasons were with Phoenix. The year before he arrived, the team won 28 games. In Majerle's rookie year, the Suns won 55.

By 1993, with Charles Barkley on the team, the Suns reached the NBA Finals and Majerle's popularity rivaled that of Barkley.

"My favorite moment -- '93," Majerle said, "winning 62 games, opening this building, playing with Charles, Danny Ainge and the rest of the team. It was a great team and going to the finals is something I'll never forget."

He remembers going into the stands after sinking a 3-pointer to beat the Lakers late in the regular season, then hitting another big late 3 in the deciding fifth game of the first-round series against Los Angeles.

Suns owner Jerry Colangelo was warned to stay away from Majerle in the draft.

"He was classified as damaged goods," Colangelo said. "He already had knee surgery and he also had screws in his ankles. We were told the guy would probably have a short career."

In the playoffs of his rookie season, the 6-foot-6 Majerle dunked over Golden State's 7-foot-7 Manute Bol. No matter that he was called for an offensive foul, it became one of the great moments in Suns' lore.

"First of all, it wasn't a charge," Majerle said. "I even know the ref who called it. I'll never forget -- Joe Forte."

Majerle was no great shooter out of college.

"He was a slasher," Colangelo said. "He was a defender. He was a hustler."

Practice and more practice made Majerle a great shooter, and he played in the All-Star game three times.

At training camp before the 1995 season, Majerle was called into a meeting by Colangelo and told he was being traded to Cleveland in the deal that brought Hot Rod Williams to the Suns.

"That was one of the darker days of my NBA career," Majerle said.

After one season in Cleveland, Majerle went to Miami and played for Pat Riley for six years.

"The Miami years were great," Majerle said. "I was lucky again to go to such a great organization. Pat Riley and the Heat are first class all the way. I was lucky to play on some very good teams there and had some positive experiences."

But Majerle wanted to end his career in Phoenix. The Suns and their fans had never forgotten him, and Majerle's Sports Bar and Grill, his restaurant bar just down the street from America West Arena, is one of the most popular postgame night spots.

"Let's put it this way, from the time we traded him we'd been trying to get him back," Colangelo said. "It just took this long."

Majerle signed a one-year deal with the Suns, and said it would be his last as a basketball player.

For much of the season, Majerle languished on the bench. But when coach Scott Skiles was replaced by Majerle's former Suns teammate, Frank Johnson, things changed.

Majerle, a shooting guard and small forward his entire career, became the Suns' most reliable power forward, using savvy and strength to overcome the height deficiency.

"Dan might not get the rebound," Johnson said, "but his man won't either."

Majerle started hitting clutch 3-pointers again.

"It's been a lot of fun because I've been playing in the fourth quarter when the games matter," Majerle said. "That's what it's all about, and that's what I've been used to doing for 14 years. I've been able to hit some big shots. Like I said, it's a perfect way for me to go out."

For the only time in his career, Majerle won't be playing in the playoffs. The Suns failed to reach the postseason for the first time since 1987, the year before Majerle arrived.

Still, Majerle has no regrets about his decision to play again for the Suns. He is going out firing.

In the 12 games leading up to Tuesday night's contest at San Antonio, Majerle has made three or more 3-pointers seven times, shooting 46 percent (29-for-63) from beyond the arc in the process.

Majerle will be honored at Wednesday night's game. Eventually, Colangelo promised, he will be added to the team's "Ring of Honor."

If he wants, a job is waiting for him at the Suns. Majerle said he might want to enter coaching or maybe broadcasting.

"I don't want to move away from Phoenix," he said. "This is where I want to stay."

04-16-2002, 08:40 PM
Thanks for the memories Thunder Dan.

04-16-2002, 08:48 PM
I liked him - he was a classy player.

04-16-2002, 08:58 PM
Anyone who plays the game that hard and keeps a positive attitude has my vote.