Majerle: Paxson Shot Haunts Me To This Day

Dan Majerle reflected on the 1993 NBA Finals and weighed in on DeAndre Ayton and Marvin Bagley, among other topics

The DA Show
June 21, 2018 - 11:57 am

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The 1993 NBA Finals remains one of the best in league history, but it’s still painful for Suns fans and players alike. The Bulls beat the Suns in six games that year, as John Paxson hit a late three to give Chicago a 99-98 win.

“That shot haunts me and I think everybody here in Phoenix,” former Suns All-Star Dan Majerle said on The DA Show. “To this day, they run that play back. We were up two, they were going to have the last possession, and we had a timeout. We sat in the huddle and we said, ‘No threes. Absolutely no threes. If they make a two, we go into overtime, and we win it in overtime here in our own building.’”

The Suns were clinging to a 98-96 lead. They had allowed just nine points in the fourth quarter –  all to Michael Jordan – but had missed six of seven shots down the stretch. 

It all led to one of the most memorable shots in NBA history.

“If you see the play, I’m on the weak side, and when Danny Ainge – who I kid all the time – just left John Paxson to go double Horace Grant, my hands go up,” Majerle said. “I’m like, ‘What is going on?’ And in just a minute, or a second, that ball goes through the hoop and you realize that your dreams are crushed right there and the whole season goes down the drain.”

The Suns, who went 62-20 that season, haven’t made it back to the Finals. They also haven’t made the playoffs since 2010, but they’re hoping the No. 1 pick in the Draft will help.

“I think (DeAndre) Ayton is going to be really good,” Majerle said of the Suns’ likely No. 1 pick. “Everybody thinks that. He’s a special type of player, and I can’t see the Suns passing on him. Fifty years, we’ve never had the first pick, so they’re so excited about this and everybody is kind of leaning toward Ayton. Him playing a high school year here, going to (Arizona), kind of being a local guy – I would be surprised if they pass on him.”

That said, the Suns have options.

“To be honest with you, I think Ayton is going to be great, but I really think Marvin Bagley is going to be a special player,” Majerle said. “I’ve had the opportunity to watch him since he’s been a freshman in high school. He went to high school here for his first couple years, and I’ve gotten to know him really well. He’s going to be a special, special player. If it was me, I would still take Ayton because I think that’s the expectation. It would be hard to bounce back from something like that if you didn’t take him and he panned out to be great, but I think Marvin Bagley is going to be a special, special player.”

Ayton averaged 20.1 points, 11.6 rebounds and 1.6 assists for Arizona, while Bagley averaged 21.0 points, 11.1 rebounds and shot 39.7 percent from three for Duke.

DA asked if Bagley will be better than Ayton in the NBA.

“I think it’s going to be close,” Majerle said. “I think both of them are going to be really good. I think Marvin is just scratching the surface. This is a kid that should be a freshman in college right now. He reclassified to go to college.”

Bagley turned 19 in March. Ayton turns 20 in July.

“To be able to do that and go to Duke and to put up the type of numbers that he put up with other guys who are going to be drafted is a special player,” Majerle said. “I think he’s just scratching the surface of what he can be.”