Dan's Night Brings Out the Stars

Bob Young
The Arizona Republic
March 10, 2003

How big was Dan Majerle's induction into the Suns' Ring of Honor?

Charles Barkley was there.

Barkley, who remains estranged from the Suns organization, had said he wouldn't attend but would watch from Majerle's Sports Grill up the street. But he was there, standing in the south tunnel of America West Arena to watch as Majerle was honored.

Ring of Honor members Connie Hawkins, Dick Van Arsdale, Alvan Adams, Walter Davis and Tom Chambers were on hand. Kevin Johnson and Joe Proski recorded video messages. Notably missing was Paul Westphal, the only other ring member - and the coach when Majerle was traded to Cleveland.

Majerle spent his first seven seasons with the Suns before he was traded to Cleveland. He later signed with Miami but returned to finish his career with the Suns last season.

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"Miami and Cleveland were great organizations," Majerle said, perhaps fibbing a bit on the Cleveland part. "But I'd be lying if I didn't say that when I looked down at those jerseys and didn't see Phoenix Suns on there, something was missing."

The Suns presented Majerle with a 1966 Cadillac convertible, set up a golf outing for him with Tiger Woods and will send the family on a Hawaiian vacation.

Majerle also received nine autographed pieces of sports memorabilia from other stars.

Club chairman Jerry Colangelo announced that the team will present a "Dan Majerle Hustle Award" to a player each season, with a $9,000 donation going to a charity of that player's choice.

And of course, there were plenty of reminders of the night when Majerle was drafted and the crowd at the Phoenix Civic Plaza booed the selection.

Cotton Fitzsimmons, then the coach of the Suns, chastised the fans for it.

"The jeers have turned into cheers," Fitzsimmons said. "And they're still cheering for you."

Majerle told Fitzsimmons, "I still haven't met anybody who has admitted they booed me yet."

Finally, Majerle thanked the Valley's sports fans for accepting him and remembered what it was like to come to Phoenix as a relative unknown out of Central Michigan.

"Fifteen years ago, I came here from Traverse City, Mich., wearing a tweed sports coat," he said. "It was 110 degrees out."

COPYRIGHT 2002, AZCENTRAL.COM. Used with permission.

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