KJ on Majerle
Posted: March 7, 2003
Kevin Johnson teamed with Dan Majerle for six seasons and formed one of the most popular guard tandems in Suns history. Suns.com caught up with the Suns' legend recently to get his unique perspective on Thunder Dan joining him in the Suns' Ring of Honor.
Suns.com: What were your original thoughts when it was announced that the Suns had drafted Majerle? Did you have any prior exposure to him or know anything about him?
Kevin Johnson: I don’t think too many people in the country were aware of Central Michigan and Dan at the time. I knew we were rebuilding and needed some help on the defensive end and from what little I knew and was told, Dan could fill that void. Management couldn’t have aced any better. I also didn’t put much stock in the fans’ reaction following the announcement the Suns had drafted Dan. Just one year earlier, many of the Cleveland Cavaliers fans weren’t overly thrilled with their selection.
Suns.com: What does it say for Dan as well as the NBA that one can come out of a “middle range” college like Central Michigan and have a successful 14 year career?
Johnson: That hard work and determination can get you a lot farther than most people think. The game isn’t played on paper, but on the court, where desire and determination can often outweigh athleticism. Dan is an exceptional individual with a work ethic second to none. Combine that with his natural talent and it is not surprising he has had such a long and successful career.
Suns.com: Dan’s game evolved over the years as he was able to adapt to injuries and the personnel around him. How difficult do you think that was and what kind of person and player does it take to be able to make the kind of adjustments Dan made to extend his career?
Johnson: Dan is a true basketball competitor and like all competitors he will do whatever is necessary to win ballgames. When we needed him to score, he would score. When we needed him to tighten up on the opposition’s scorer, he played ferocious “D”. There was no one on the court who was going to beat Dan to a ball. He sacrificed his body to do what most helped the team. When the bumps and bruises from physical play on the defensive and offensive ends of the court began to take their toll, Dan adapted his game to develop one of the most deadly three-point shots in the game. It’s a difficult thing to do (make adjustments) but competitors and team players will do what is necessary.
Suns.com: What kind of guy was Dan in the locker room as far as being a team guy and leader?
Johnson: The way Dan played on the floor elevated him to a leader. He led by example. His locker room personality was great. He kept us loose with his sense of humor and unconventional outlook on things. It was this approach and levity to things that helped bring us together as a team.
Suns.com: Dan had a reputation as being a bit of a character off the court. Can you recall any specific stories of Dan in the locker room or away from the game that illustrated his character off the court?
Johnson: To protect the innocent, namely Dan’s family, friends and teammates, I am not at liberty to discuss some of his off court actions.