Plenty of previously unknown Michael Jordan stories came to light during The Last Dance, one of which involved three-time NBA All-Star Dan Majerle, who was specifically targeted by MJ during the 1993 NBA Finals between the Chicago Bulls and Phoenix Suns.
As anyone who watched the ESPN documentary knows, Jordan used anything he could to motivate himself and the fact that Bulls general manager Jerry Krause liked Majerle was enough for Jordan to single out “Thunder Dan,” who recently spoke on the matter and said he was just as shocked as anyone with the revelation as he honestly had no idea His Airness had put a bullseye on his back.
The Dream Team II member also revealed the strategy he attempted to use to slow Jordan down during that series, which obviously didn’t work as MJ set an NBA Finals scoring average record on the way to leading the Bulls to their third consecutive championship.
Dan Majerle was shocked to learn Michael Jordan had targeted him during the 1993 NBA Finals
For those who may not remember exactly what Michael Jordan said about Dan Majerle during the sixth episode of The Last Dance, this was the quote:
“I knew that Jerry Krause loved Dan Majerle and just because Krause liked him was enough for me. You think he’s a great defensive player? OK, fine. I’m going to show you he’s not.”Michael Jordan on Dan Majerle in The Last Dance
This was apparently quite the stunning revelation to Majerle, who was watching the documentary and wondering if he’d even get mentioned at all. But while initially shocked, he actually sees it as an honor, as he recently told Golf.com.
“I was sitting there on the couch watching [the documentary] and thinking, OK, is he going to mention me? I hope he doesn’t kill me; maybe he shouldn’t mention me. So when he said that, I was just as shocked as anybody. And people bring it up to me all the time and I think it’s a badge of honor. The greatest player in the world is trying to kill me — which he did.”Dan Majerle on getting mentioned by Michael Jordan during The Last Dance
Dan Majerle tried to talk golf to Michael Jordan to slow him down
When Dan Patrick was still with ESPN, one of his signature phrases during Sportscenter was, “You can’t stop him, you can only hope to contain him.” Remember that one? Well, that pretty much summarizes Michael Jordan’s career. MJ was always going to get his points. It was just how many that was always the issue for opposing defenses.
Numerous strategies were devised over the years in an attempt to stop him, most notably the “Jordan Rules” created by Chuck Daly, an extreme tactic designed to beat Jordan down during the famous Bulls-Pistons rivalry.
But Dan Majerle took quite a different approach when matched up with Jordan during the ’93 Finals, choosing a much calmer route.
“My whole philosophy playing Jordan was to talk golf — that’s all I did. I was like, ‘Hey, Mike, how’s the game? What kind of ball you playing? What’s your driver?’ I’m just trying to keep him mellow so maybe he’ll give me 35. Because if I piss him off he’s going to give me 55. So I’m just talking golf.”Dan Majerle on his strategy against Michael Jordan in the 1993 NBA Finals
That’s a bold strategy, Dan, let’s see if it pays off. Sorry, can’t resist a good Dodgeball quote. The strategy obviously didn’t pay off as Jordan simply went off against Majerle and the Suns.
MJ averaged a record 41 points in the 1993 NBA Finals
Dan Majerle obviously wasn’t the only person to guard Michael Jordan during the 1993 NBA Finals but neither his strategy nor any other strategy the Phoenix Suns tried during the series worked. Jordan averaged 41 points during the series, an NBA Finals record, including a 55-point outburst in Game 4, which is tied for the second-highest single-game total in Finals history.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference