One-on-One with Thunder Dan
|Dan Majerle was a three-time All-Star in his legendary Suns career.(Barry Gossage/NBAE/Getty Images)|
With the 14th overall pick in the 1988 NBA Draft the Phoenix Suns selected an unknown guard with an unusual last name out of Central Michigan. It did not take Suns fans long, though, to figure out who Dan Majerle was and what he had to offer.
"Thunder Dan" spent the next seven seasons in Phoenix becoming one of the most popular players in Suns history, while earning respect from fans, teammates and opponents alike with his tough defensive play and rim-shaking dunks. A three-time All-Star, Majerle was also a major catalyst in the Suns' Western Conference Championship in 1992-93.
As the physical nature of the NBA began to take it's toll, Majerle shifted from throwing down dunks to raining threes and became one the premier long-distance shooters in the game, even breaking the league's record for most three-pointers in a season with 192 in '93-94.
After stints in Miami and Cleveland, he returned to Phoenix for one last season with the Suns in 2001-02, punctuated by his 800th career three-pointer in the closing minutes of his final NBA game last April.
The only player in franchise history to have worn all three uniform styles, Majerle will be officially recognized as one of the Suns' all-time greats when he is inducted into the team's Ring of Honor this Sunday, March 9, during halftime of the Suns-Timberwolves game at America West Arena.
Majerle will join former Suns greats Connie Hawkins, Dick Van Arsdale, Alvan Adams, Paul Westphal, Walter Davis, Tom Chambers, Kevin Johnson and long-time trainer Joe Proski in the Ring. But first he joined Suns.com for an online chat on Wednesday, March 5.
Francisco B. (Asuncion, Paraguay): Hi Dan, I met the NBA in 1990 and became a Suns' fan (yes, here in Paraguay) because of Thunder Dan. I just want to know which moment you consider the top moment of your career as a Sun?
Dan Majerle: The top moment was the 92-93 championship season. That whole year of winning 62 games and going to the Finals. That was by far the funnest year of my NBA career.
Rod, UK: What do you think of the comparisons made between yourself and Casey Jacobson ?
Dan Majerle: I don't think you're right. I think Casey is a very good player and will be a very good player for a long time. But when I came into the league, we were very different players. When I left the Suns, I was a three-point shooter and he is too so that's why the comparisons are there. But at his age, we weren't the same type of player.
Joe (Glendale): At any point during your Suns career, did you ever think your No. 9 might end up in the rafters with guys like Hawk, Van, Adams and Westy?
Dan Majerle: No! I really didn't think it would. I was just happy that I was able to come back here and play my last year here and retire as a Phoenix Sun. When Jerry told me I was going to be in the Ring of Honor, I was pleasantly surprised. It is obviously an honor for me so I'm very lucky.
Jamie Australia: what was your fitness regime and your eating habits.
Dan Majerle: I would eat right, make sure I had a well-balanced diet. Didn't eat anything bad for me. I would probably lift weights three times a week. During the season, you play so much that you don't need much other workout time. But I'd just lift weights, eat right and get as much as rest as I could during the season.
Rob (Phx): Any plans on joining the suns bench as part of the coaching staff? It would be good for the team, fans, and ticket sales? thanks for the memories!
Dan Majerle: I don't know right now. I'm just really enjoying retirement and hanging out with my kids and doing the little things with them. I haven't decided what I'm going to do in the next couple of years when I go back to work. It's an option and something to think about, but I'm not sure yet.
Kevin (Phoenix): Hi Dan. I remember being a kid and watching you in the '88 Olympics and being so happy when the Suns drafted you and you never disappointed. Now that you're retired, any plans for joinging the PGA Champions Tour?
Dan Majerle: (laughs). I wish! I'm addicted to golf, I play an awful lot. If I could, I would, but I'll never be that good.
LT: Dan, is there some part of you that wishes you were still on the NBA court? Looking back on your career, is there anything you wish could have done differently or wished to have achieved?
Dan Majerle: I think it would have been fun to play this year because this team seems to have a great chemistry. To play with Amare, Stephon, Casey and Bo, they seem to be together more this year and that would have been fun. But I don't regret retiring, I'm enjoying other aspects of my life now. If I could have changed one thing, I wish I could've stayed a Sun forever and not be traded, but that's just part of the business.
Andyman (Australia): Hey Dan, why did you wear number 9?
Dan Majerle: I wore #44 in college and that was retired (Westphal) so I had to go with another number. I remember my dad used to wear #9 when he played intramurals and I wanted to wear a number that wasn't real popular and seemed no one was wearing #9 so that's why I picked it.
Zed Weinstein Phoenix: What Was it like when you hit that game winning three pointer against The Lakers in 1993 and what was going thru your mind
Dan Majerle: It was the last game of the regular season, and it was just a perfect way to cap off the regular season because it was such a great season and it was a great recap and great memory. I still have the tape of it and I watch it every once in awhile. It showed what a great season it was for everyone, for the fans and for us, it was just a great way to cap off the season.
Bonnie (Phoenix): The Suns got a big win last night. Do you think they're going to be able to hold onto that last playoff spot? If so, how do you think they would fare against a Dallas or Sacramento having the top seed?
Dan Majerle: I think they'll be able to hold on. Every team goes through slumps, especialy young teams, but they'll play better and better as the season ends. If they face Dallas or Sacramento, it'll be a tough task becasue both teams play so good at home and they can win on the road. But the Suns have the talent, and if they all play well, they can win.
Luke from Turin/ITALY: HI great Dan!!! I'm one of yours best Fans since the early ninetees', and will always remember the great warrior in your playin' style. My question is: Who do you think could bring on your dynamism and tough play in the actual Suns roster??? Again a big thanks for all luke'68.
Dan Majerle: I'm a big fan of Matt Harpring on the Jazz. He plays extremely hard and he's in there battling and working hard. I really respect his game and the way he plays.
Amy (Peoria): I saw the old photos on Suns.com from your old "Thunder Nine" calendar. What was that whole experience like for you?
Dan Majerle: Weird. It never started off to be a calendar, I was just doing a photo shoot for a clothing line and it just got out of control. I didn't know it was going to happen at the time so it was kind of a shock.
Sam (Peoria): How does it feel to be the only player in Suns history with FOUR bobbleheads? Which one is your favorite?
Dan Majerle: I think my favorite one is the one where we wear the old jersey, the throwback jersey. That's my favorite of all time. I guess I'm the only Sun to wear all three uniforms. I think the logo is cool and I like it a lot. So that's probably my favorite one.
Justin (Flagstaff): Why is it that when players retire from the NBA they seem to go back to the Suns organization in some capacity, even though they played with other good teams in their careers?
Dan Majerle: I think that the Suns organization is a class organization and I believe a lot of players come here to retire. It's a great city to live in. The Suns organization is kind of like a family and they like to take care of people who play here.
Henry/ NJ: What was in your mind the best game you ever had?
Dan Majerle: Probably when I was in Miami. I was playing in Minnesota and I made 9-10 three-pointers. The other game would be with the Suns in 1993 in the Western Conference Finals against Seattle when I made 8-10 three-pointers to help us move on to play Chicago in the Finals.
Daniel (Tempe): Hey Thunder, You've always been my favorite Sun, even when you went to Miami, I always rooted for you. Quick question, how long do you think it will take for Charles to join you in the Ring? Don't you think he deserves to be there? Will Charles and the Organization ever mend the fences?
Dan Majerle: I don't know if it will ever happen, I hope it does. Charles is a big part of this organization. He took this team to the Finals, he's the reason why we went. So I hope they can square things off and eventually he can get in there.
zack, phoenix: what do you think the suns need to do in the offseason to improve?
Dan Majerle: I don't know, I don't think they need any improvement. They just have to have their young guys continue to get better. The longer they play together, the better they will be. I would keep the team together and let them improve and mature.
Cody Nabors Glendale: How old were you when you did your first slam dunk? How tall were you too?
Dan Majerle: I think I was a sophomore in high school and I was probably 6-1.
Dusty (Phoenix): If all of the Suns' Ring of Honor members played in a one-on-one tournament, who would win? How would you fare?
Dan Majerle: I'd win right now because I'm the youngest! But in our primes, I think Connie Hawkins would win it. He was a fantastic one-on-one player his whole career. So if we played in our primes, he would win.
Adster (Down Under): Do you have a favorite active Suns player? What do you think the Suns need to focus on to go all the way this year?
Dan Majerle: My favorite player now is Stephon because he makes the team go and I enjoyed playing with him. I think he has to stay aggressive and the better he is, the better everyone else on the team is going to be.
Justin (Flagstaff): Which player was the most fun to play with on the court?
Dan Majerle: Charles. He played hard and it was fun to play with him because even though we played really hard, it was also really enjoyable. He just had a way of making the game really fun to play.
Samual (Phoenix): Are you nervous about your Ring of Honor ceremony? Will we see any tears?
Dan Majerle: I'm very nervous, and I hope you don't see any tears! I've been kept in the dark about what's going to happen. It's going to be very emotional. I'm excited about it and It's a great honor. I'm really looking forward to it, but I'm a little nervous about it.
Dan Majerle: I appreciate all the Suns fans and the way they have always supported me and made me feel so welcome here. That's why I retired here. I'm honored to be put up in the Ring of Honor and it's because of the way the Suns organization and fans have treated me so I'd just like to say thanks!