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Daniel Lewis Majerle (; born September 9, 1965) is a retired American professional basketball player and current coach of the Grand Canyon Antelopes. He played 14 years in the NBA, primarily with the Phoenix Suns, also with the Miami Heat and, briefly, the Cleveland Cavaliers. He won a bronze medal with the US national team at the 1988 Summer Olympics, and won a gold medal at the 1994 FIBA World Championship.
Majerle was born in Traverse City, Michigan. He starred for Traverse City High School (now Traverse City Central High School) and Central Michigan University, where he played for four years with averages of 21.8 points and 8.9 rebounds a game.
The Phoenix Suns selected Majerle with the 14th pick of the 1988 NBA Draft, which the Suns acquired (along with Kevin Johnson) in a trade from the Cleveland Cavaliers for Larry Nance. During the draft, he was promptly booed when his name was announced over the public address system. Suns coach Cotton Fitzsimmons publicly chastised the Suns fans and told them "you'll be sorry you ever booed this young man". In his rookie season Majerle only played in 54 games and started in 5, averaging 8.6 points as a reserve. The Suns would win 55 games and make the playoffs, and Majerle increased his scoring average to 14.3 points a game as Phoenix advanced all the way to the Western Conference Finals before losing to the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers.
The young player would continue to be used as a reserve for the next two seasons, and would become popular for his impressive jumping ability and "thunderous" dunks that would lead to his nickname "Thunder Dan." In the 1989-1990 season he would start in 23 games, increasing his scoring average to 11 points a game as the Suns once again advanced to the Western Conference Finals where they were this time eliminated by the Portland Trail Blazers. Despite another successful season for Majerle and the Suns in the 1990-1991 season, they would fall in the first round of the playoffs to the Utah Jazz. Majerle had become an effective three-point shooter and defensive specialist, and would be named to the 1990-1991 NBA All-Defensive Second team at the conclusion of the season.
The 1992 season would feature more improvement for Majerle, who had become an effective three-point shooter and defensive specialist. Despite starting in just 15 of the 82 games he played in, Majerle was selected to play in the 1992 NBA All-Star Game. The Suns once again made the playoffs, but lost in the conference semifinals to Portland. In the offseason, Phoenix managed to pull off a major step towards an NBA Title, as they acquired superstar forward Charles Barkley in a trade with the Philadelphia 76ers.
1993: Trip to the Finals
The Suns had improved significantly with the addition of Barkley, while the trade itself which featured the departure of guard Jeff Hornacek meant that Majerle would now serve as the team's starting shooting guard. The result would be a 62 win season for Phoenix, with Barkley winning the Most Valuable Player Award and Majerle finishing second on the team scoring while being named to his second NBA All-Defensive Second Team. Majerle also finished first in the NBA in three point field goals made and attempted, and scored 18 points in the 1993 NBA All-Star Game. The Suns entered the playoffs as the number 1 seed in the Western Conference, and would defeat the Lakers, the San Antonio Spurs and the Seattle SuperSonics to reach the NBA Finals with Majerle averaging 15 points in the playoffs and posting big games such as a 34 point performance in the 5th game against Seattle. In the Finals, the Suns faced the defending champion Chicago Bulls led by Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, and despite having home court advantage the Suns could not beat the champs who prevailed in 6 games. Majerle performed well in the Suns win in game 3, scoring 28 points in the crucial win in Chicago.
Last Years in Phoenix
Majerle would once again lead the league in three point field goals and attempts in the 1993-1994 season, as the Suns won 56 games and made the playoffs before losing to the eventual champion Houston Rockets in a 7 game semifinal series. He would then go on to play for Team USA and win in the World Championships in Canada. He would earn another selection to the All-Star game in the following season, scoring 10 points in the 1995 NBA All-Star Game which was held in Phoenix. Despite this, Majerle started in 46 games, playing small forward often as the team now featured Wesley Person at shooting guard and veteran A.C. Green at forward. The Suns would go on to again lose in the semifinals to Houston in 7 games, with Majerle being traded in the offseason to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
In Cleveland Majerle was used as a reserve at small forward, starting in 15 of 82 games behind Chris Mills and averaging 10.6 points a game. The Cavaliers won 47 games before losing to the New York Knicks in 3 game sweep in the first round, with Majerle increasing his scoring to 16.7 (second on the team) during the series. In the offseason the Cavaliers released Majerle, and he would go on to sign with the Miami Heat.
The Heat were an expansion team with a bright future, as they featured all-stars Alonzo Mourning, Tim Hardaway and were coached by Pat Riley. Injuries limited Majerle to 36 games during the 1996-1997 season, as the Heat managed to win a franchise best 61 wins and the Atlantic Division. During the regular season, on December 7, 1996 against the Chicago Bulls, Majerle made a three-pointer with one second remaining to win the game 83-80 and snap the Bulls' NBA record 44 home game winning streak. In the playoffs the veteran was in healthy shape, and the Heat beat the Orlando Magic in the first round before facing the Knicks in a grueling 7 game series in which Majerle scored 18 points in the sixth game. The Heat would eventually fall to the defending champion Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference Finals in 5 games.
Majerle would again play as the team's reserve at small forward in the 1997-1998 season, averaging 7 points a game as one of the team's main three point threats, and Miami would post another winning season before losing to New York in the first round of the playoffs. The 1998-1999 season would be shortened to 50 games as a result of a league lockout, and with teammate Voshon Lenard hurt for much of the season, Majerle stepped in to start in 48 games. Miami won another Atlantic Division title, but once again lost to New York in 5 games in the first round.
The team continued to use Majerle as a starter in the 1999-2000 season, as he started in 69 games and once again averaged 7 points during the season. In the playoffs Miami defeated the Detroit Pistons in the first round before facing the Knicks in another 7 game series in which New York once again prevailed. Majerle averaged 9 points in the playoffs and led the team with 20 three point field goals. In the 2000 offseason it was revealed that Alonzo Mourning would not play as a result of a kidney disease, and the 2000-2001 season would feature new acquisitions such as Eddie Jones and Anthony Mason, and Majerle would serve as a reserve. The Heat would lose in the first round of the playoffs in a sweep to the Charlotte Hornets, and in the offseason Majerle would sign a deal returning to his original team in Phoenix.
Return to Phoenix and retirement
In his return to the Suns Majerle received much praise and applause from the hometown Suns fans, playing in 65 games and leading the team in three point field goals with 79. His NBA career capped on April 17, 2002 when he officially retired as a member of his original team.
Majerle was inducted into the Suns' "Ring of Honor" on March 9, 2003.
In 2006, he was inducted into the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame. In 2003, Majerle made his broadcasting debut covering the 2003 NBA Playoffs for TNT and later became an analyst for ESPN.
Majerle was an assistant head coach for the Phoenix Suns from 2008-2013. He also owns four sports grill restaurants. His nephew, Ryan Majerle played for the 2011–12 University of Toledo Rockets men's basketball team before deciding to transfer to Grand Valley State University and then follow his uncle to Grand Canyon.
On March 15, 2013, it was announced that Majerle would coach for Grand Canyon University in their first season as a Division I team.