Dan and His Fans
Posted: April 8, 2002
In the final segment of KTAR's tribute to Dan Majerle, the Phoenix favorite takes calls from a few of his many fans. The following is a transcript of the question-and-answer session...
Cesmat: We are going to open the phone lines. This is your chance to share your goodbyes, thoughts, memories or recollections with Dan Majerle.
Caller: Earlier Brad was asking us what memory stood out the most for us, the Suns fans. I think the one that stood out the most for me, I think it was back in the early 90s and we were playing Houston. I think it was the second round and we were down by 20 points with just minutes left. I gave up and went to bed, and the next thing I know my dad was waking me up to tell me (the Suns) were down by only one point. I went in to watch it on TV and there you are hitting a three-pointer. It was just awesome. It was just fabulous. I was screaming at 10 oíclock at night. We are going to miss you so much.
Majerle: I appreciate that. The best part of the years I have been here, especially the teams earlier, we did have an exciting team, an exciting brand of basketball. No matter if we were up 20 or down 20, there was always a lot to watch on our team. Thatís one of the biggest memories I will always have was the way we always fought. It made it exciting, with Charles, myself, Kevin, Danny and Joe. Thatís one of the things Iím most proud of. We went out and played basketball hard. We scored a lot of points and made it fun.
Caller: Thatís why I named my daughter Majerle.
Majerle: Thank you.
Cesmat: How many kids do you think are named Majerle?
Majerle: Iíve met a few. When I go to some of these autograph signings Iíve met at least six or seven of the Majerle girls. Itís kind of weird, but itís also very flattering.
Cesmat: No question about it.
The flagship station of Your Phoenix Suns.
Majerle: Yeah, that was one of my finer moments.
Cesmat: You crashed and burned?
Majerle: You know what happened was I suppose to ride on the back with Rattler ďFangĒ and it was at the last second and they said, ďHow about you ride your own motorcycle? Do you know how to ride a motorcycle? I said, ďSure. Iíve ridden a motorcycle.Ē They gave me this Harley that was all supped up. Itís all tricked up. They said, ďNow when you get out there be careful because the tires are going to grab a little bit.Ē I said, ďNo matter. Whatever.Ē So I go out and I look up and I have a big football team to my left and cheerleaders on my right, and I have like a five-yard area to go through. I kind of panic and hit the brake and the gas. The next thing I know Iím skidding all over and run right into the side of the wall. The football players want to fight me. They think Iím doing it on purpose. I have a 700-pound motorcycle laying on my leg and 15,000 people screaming so it was definitely a hairy moment for me.
Cesmat: So in your contract Iím sure you have a no motorcycle riding (clause)?
Majerle: Well, it was weird because at the time I was with Miami. I think a friend of mine went up and grabbed the tape and made sure it was destroyed. I easily could have broken my leg or hurt somebody in that. That was one of the more hairy moments of my career.
Cesmat: Tell me about arenas you played in and some of the weird moments. You just gave one. Youíre supposed to always play basketball, but there is always something in the course of an athleteís career that jumps out whether its mascots or goofy things that happen during the course of your career.
Majerle: I remember one time we were in Washington and Joe Kleine was on the team at that time and we were scheduled to stay overnight. There was condensation on the floor. It was really wet and the refs were taking forever, about 45 minutes to an hour. They werenít ready. They werenít sure if they were going to start the game or postpone the game until the next day. So finally, I said Joe, ďWatch this.Ē Iím warming up and I was all sweaty and poured some water on my shirt and went onto the floor and slid across the floor. I got extremely wet. I went over to the ref and said thereís no way we can play in this game. I said, ďCome here, feel this.Ē (The referee) went right over to where I had slid across the floor and felt my wet jersey and he said, ďYouíre right. Thatís too wet.Ē He called the game. I was just sitting there I was so bored. I had to do something about this. That was probably one of the weird times. Sometimes youíre playing and the lights go off. One time in Miami we had another hour delay and I sat there and shot halfcourt shots from behind my back for about an hour to entertain the crowd. Thereís a lot of things that go on in NBA games that are pretty weird.
Majerle: Cotton, my first coach and Riley were my favorite coaches. Cotton was a very intense guy, but he also knew when to let the game go. He was a lot of fun to play for. Coach Riley was a guy who was just so intense and into the game. He was a guy who would give the best pre-game speeches before every game. He would have 82 different speeches and when you walked out of the locker room, you were ready to run through a wall for this guy and do anything for this guy to get a win. Those two guys were my favorite two coaches.
Cesmat: Players that you played with that had so much talent and never came to fruition? For any reason.
Majerle: The most talented guy I ever played with was Charles. Charles was the greatest and he could have done so much more.
Cesmat: In what way?
Majerle: Well, he liked to have fun a lot and I have nothing against that. Itís just scary what he did with his body at 6-foot-6. It was just amazing the things he did on the floor. He was the only reason we were in (the Finals) and why we won 62 games that year. Just a great, great player.
Cesmat: When the Suns were down 0-2 to the Lakers (in the 1993 Playoffs), what were your thoughts?
Majerle: Panic. It really was. We had won 62 games and we had beat them all year long. To lose the first two games here in Phoenix and then having to go to the Lakers knowing weíd have to win two and then win the last one here Ė it was just the whole season going down the drain. (Paul) Westphal made that famous comment ĎWeíre going to go win the first one, second one and come back to win the third one and everyone will talk about what a great series it was.Ē
Cesmat: So when he made that comment, did that really faze you?
Majerle: No, I think it was a positive thing. I think it really helped out the players. It put it in a positive aspect. It made everyone kind of loose. Once we got to L.A., it was like us against the world and we felt that way, and won.
Cesmat: I know we talked about the Finals earlier. Danny brought it up. Charles brought it up. When you think back on that series, other than the Paxson shot, is there any point in that series you look and say, ĎMan, I wish I would have, could have, fill in the blankĒ?
Majerle: There was a point right before that Paxson shot where Michael Jordan got a rebound and went the full length of the court without anyone touching him and laying it in. If we would have stopped him or make him take another five, 10 seconds off the shot clock or the game clock or we would have won the game. It was just a great series. We won two out of three in a real hostile place (in Chicago). That Paxson shot still haunts me to this day. You see it all the time. You think about it all the time. We were so close that I thought if there was a seventh game we would have won it and we would have been World Champs.
Caller: I was 13 going to my first professional basketball game. It was Phoenix versus Seattle and my man, Thunder Dan, made eight three-pointers. Ever since that day you made me a basketball fan. Iíve followed your career all the way through. You came so close in the 1996-97 season with Miami. I really thought you were going to take out the Bulls that year.
Majerle: Yeah, thanks. I made 8 of 10 against Seattle. I remember it. It was a playoff series. We would go to the Finals if we beat them and that was one of my better games obviously in the playoffs. It was a very exciting game. That was a great series too. We had to go to Seattle to win a game. We did that. Then my first year in Miami we won 61 or 60 games and lost to the Bulls in the Eastern Conference Finals. That was another one of the greatest seasons Iíve been involved with.
Cesmat: I have to ask you about doctors and trainers. Doctors and trainers donít get enough credit. They kept you going.
Majerle: Ummm, Joe Proski. Magic Fingers. Thatís the guy I started out with Dr. (Richard) Emerson. They were the first guys I really got to know as far as the training staff. Joe is still a great friend of mine. I really respect him. He has and always will be a good friend of mine. He really showed me the ropes of what to do as an NBA player and how to stay in this league a long time. Dr. Emerson did a great job. Now Aaron Nelson and Casey Smith are taking over now. They are also doing a good job. Iíve had all good trainers in the league. Cleveland was great. Miami was great, but Joe is definitely my favorite.
Cesmat: Did you have any bitter sort of feelings when you were traded? Are those feelings gone?
Majerle: Oh, they are gone, but I was definitely bitter. Not towards Cotton or Jerry (Colangelo). I guess my feelings were towards Paul Westphal because they say thatís the guy that traded me. Itís just the way it was. I played there seven years. I thought we had a great team. I had fantastic friends on that team. I felt like I could play my whole career here and just all of a sudden here youíre going to Cleveland and youíre going to have to move your family, youíre going to have bitter feelings towards that, but Iím over that now. Going to Miami was probably a blessing in disguise.
Cesmat: Was it easy getting out of Cleveland and going to Miami?
Majerle: I had one year left. I thought about resigning in Cleveland, but they decided to go another way. Miami stepped up to the plate. It turned out to be a great deal. I went there and had five great years there.
Cesmat: What do you see after this is all said and done with the Suns organization. Do you see an opportunity there or do you want to lay low and be a dad?
Majerle: Iím going to lay low for a while. Iím not sure how long itís going to be. Iím sure Iím going to get bored because Iíve been doing this for so long. I definitely want to spend time with the kids and the family. Iím definitely going to get back into something. Hopefully, when I sit down with Jerry and Bryan they can find something for me to do in the Suns organization or I can go into broadcasting or something like that. I definitely want to stay here in Phoenix.
Majerle: Iíve thought about it. I donít know if thatís what I want to do. The NBA is so much different than it used to be. I think I would be more of a Pat Riley kind of coach.
Cesmat: Save those speeches, right?
Majerle: I donít know about the speeches, but the intensity. I would demand a lot out of my players. I think thatís going to be hard to do with the way the NBA is right now. You never know. Maybe I will got into coaching. I might take some time and think about it.
Cesmat: College and high school, you can go that route too.
Majerle: I can that route too, as long as itís in Phoenix.
Caller: The highlight of your career in my mind was the first night that you played against L.A. (Lakers) as a young Phoenix Suns star. You guarded Magic Johnson. Do you remember that?
Majerle: Actually my first game, an exhibition game, was against Los Angeles and I started that game and I looked across and there was Kareem (Abdul-Jabbar), Magic, (James) Worthy, A.C. Green and Michael Cooper or somebody and I said, ĎWhat am I doing in this lineup?Ē (laughs). It was unbelievable. That was my first recognition of the NBA looking across at all those legends.
Caller: The funny thing that happened was that Dan guarded Magic Johnson and he got right into his face. If you looked at Danís face, it looked like he didnít have a clue who Magic Johnson was. He could care less. Magic kept looking at him like ďWho was this young punk?Ē They were running to the other end of the goal and Magic just rolls Dan Majerle right down the middle of the floor. Dan took a couple of free shots, but before he did, Magic kind of looked at him like, ďHey, this is the way it works and donít bother me.Ē Once Dan was done making his free shots and he was back into Magicís face. Magic was just in complete bewilderment, ďWhere did this guy come from?Ē I want to thank you. I really enjoyed your career.
Majerle: Thank you. That was nice. Thanks a lot.
Cesmat: I appreciate the time tonight.
Majerle: Brad, thanks for doing this. This was a lot of fun.