Majerle Defeats Lakers with Remarkable Buzzer-Beater in 1993
“Miller waiting, looking, it comes to Majerle. A long three… He got it! He got it! He got it! The Suns win! The Suns win! The Suns win! The Suns win! And the Suns win the game!”
It was April 6, 1993 and the Phoenix Suns were in the midst of one of the most remarkable seasons in franchise history, having already surpassed the 50-win mark with 10 games remaining in the regular season. It was late in the year and the team held the top record in the NBA when they tipped-off against their division rival, the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Suns came out firing on all cylinders, scoring 44 points in the first quarter as they dominated the first half behind 21 points from Kevin Johnson. However, the Suns went cold in the second half and let the Lakers claw their way back into the game.
With a little over a second remaining on the clock, the Suns found themselves down by two points and in need of a miracle.
Well, Thunder Dan delivered that miracle.
The Suns had possession of the ball, but only enough time to quickly catch and shoot. Oliver Miller was looking to inbound the ball as the Lakers chased the Suns around the court allowing very little separation, knowing that even a two-pointer would sent the game to overtime.
But Dan Majerle, who ranks second in franchise history for most three pointers made with 800 triples, wasn’t looking for two. Majerle sprinted out from the paint towards half court as Charles Barkley set a screen on Lakers’ AC Green, allowing just enough of a window to spring Majerle open.
Miller found Majerle facing the other basket as he caught the ball, spun around and launched it from nearly the logo.
“We run this play and I catch it and I just turn,” Majerle said. “I’m 45, 50 feet, whatever, and I just let it go. I knew it was in as soon as I shot it. It was straight online. That’s going in.”
“When it went in, I just lost my mind,” Majerle said.
The Suns defeated the Lakers 115-114 at the buzzer to continue their spectacular season. Majerle’s excitement led him to jump on press row with both fists in the airbefore finding himself among the screaming crowd of Suns fans that stood jumping alongside him.
“It just showed the emotion, the true emotion of a player. Sometimes we forget about that,” Suns’ legendary broadcaster Al McCoy said. “He hit the three. He just came up over the press table, up in the crowd. Everybody’s hugging him, he’s hugging everybody.”
While the thrill of seeing his shot burst through the net ultimately guided him into the stands to celebrate, that wasn’t actually his plan. But once he was there, he let all of his emotions go.
“I had no intention of going into the crowd,” Majerle said. “I jumped up on the scorer table because I was just so happy and I hit a piece of paper. Instead of falling, I had to continue to go and I went right into the crowd. Was surrounded by everybody and then I went out and did a couple laps.”
Majerle finished the game with 20 points as the Suns improved to 56-16, just one game shy of tying the then-franchise record for wins in a season.
“That was the happiest I’ve ever been,” Majerle said. “It was just the cap of such a great regular season. To be able to end it like that in front of the home crowd and just to celebrate with everybody.”
The Suns went on to finish the year with the best record in the NBA at 62-60 before ultimately clinching a ticket to the NBA Finals. But that buzzer-beater and the emotion felt from the players and fans truly encapsulated the remarkable run by the 1992-93 Phoenix Suns.
“This must truly be the Suns’ charmed season,” Bob Young of the Arizona Republic wrote back in 1993.