Tuesday morning in a radio interview with 1580 The Fanatic, Phoenix Suns legend Dan Majerle was concise when responding to rumors he may be among the top candidates to join his former team as head coach.
"I've not heard from them, and I'm 100 percent focused on our team,” Majerle said.
That’s the right answer to an easy question that too often is answered in the wrong way.
On October 22nd, Phoenix fired head coach Earl Watson three games into the 2017-18 season. The Suns 0-3 record included a 48-point loss to the Portland Trail Blazers and a 42-point loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. Assistant Jay Triano was named interim head coach.
Most NBA fans are familiar with Majerle’s work, all Suns fans know “Thunder Dan.” Majerle spent 8 of his 14 seasons with the Suns. He was a three-time All-Star in Phoenix and was twice named to the NBA All-Defensive Second Team. The Suns retired his number in 2003.
Majerle served as a Suns assistant head coach from 2008-13. Today he’s the head coach at Grand Canyon University. In his first season as coach of the Antelopes GCU finished with a 15-15 overall mark. Last season, his fourth at Grand Canyon, the team won 22 games its most on the Division 1 level.
Majerle’s name has surfaced as a Phoenix head coaching candidate in the past. In 2013, after the team parted ways with Alvin Gentry and Lindsey Hunter was given the job, Majerle expressed his displeasure with the search process.
"It's been a hard pill to swallow," Majerle said. "The first thing that disappoints me is usually in a situation like this, the interim gets the jobs and that is Elston (Turner) with his 14 years of experience. Once he didn't get it, I thought I deserved it. The thing I keep hearing management say on the radio is that hiring me would've been the popular and easy thing to do. I earned it. I deserved a shot if it's not going to be Elston. I coached 5 ½ years. I coached the summer leagues. I didn't need a favor. Picking Elston would've been the easy thing to do."
"They talk about integrity," Majerle said. "To skip over two qualified people didn't make sense. They chose Lindsey, a guy not even on the coaching staff and who they told us was only there to help us. I think they had their minds made up already before the interviews. I was going to lay low and not comment but I heard people from the organization get on the radio and say I would've been the popular and easy thing to do and that's a slap in the face."
For better or worse, the possibility that the Suns pursue Majerle, whose name is as synonymous with Phoenix as any, is going to follow the team throughout the season. Did the team miss their chance? From the same 2013 interview:
"I'm loyal to a fault," Majerle said. "I'll do anything for the Suns. It was a kick to the stomach when I got passed over. I heard that they wanted discipline and accountability and that's what I've been all about since I was a player. Everyone in that organization knows that. There'd be no doubt that I'd hold players accountable."
"I love Phoenix. I love the fans. I love the Phoenix Suns. Being head coach here would have been a dream come true."
That’s nice to hear.