There was no mercy shown in the 1993 NBA Finals by Chicago Bulls legendary guard Michael Jordan against Dan Majerle and the Phoenix Suns.
In the latest night of premieres for the 10-part documentary series shining a light on the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls team called “The Last Dance”, there was a key focus on the 1993 NBA Finals. In that finals series, all-time great shooting guard Michael Jordan and the Bulls battled the MVP winner and forward Charles Barkley and the Phoenix Suns in an entertaining roller coaster ride of a six-game set.
Two of the key players in that Bulls-Suns series were definitely “Air Jordan” and the “Round Mound of Rebound”. But there were other players that played extremely prominent roles in the outcome. That includes forward Scottie Pippen, big man Horace Grant, and guard John Paxson for the Bulls. And for the Suns, that involved small forward/shooting guard Dan Majerle, point guard Kevin Johnson, and forward Richard Dumas.
However, one of the key matchups that definitely didn’t fly under-the-radar in the 1993 NBA Finals saw MJ take on Majerle. This seemed to be another case where Jordan didn’t like the fact that Bulls general manager Jerry Krause thought the world of another player and so he wanted to take it out on that player directly.
In the previous year’s NBA Finals, Jordan took a similar chip on his shoulder against eventual Hall-of-Fame shooting guard Clyde Drexler and the Portland Trail Blazers. Only against the Blazers, it was the media comparing Jordan to “Clyde the Glide” that ticked him off. Against the Suns, it was his own general manager.
This wasn’t the only time that The Last Dance showed Jordan taking down a foe because Krause was into that player. In the 1992 Summer Olympics, Jordan did the same thing to Croatian forward Toni Kukoc, before the Bulls drafted him into the NBA shortly after.
A piece from The Ringer that released on May 3 gave a good recap of the motivations that Jordan took into those showdowns against Croatia in the Summer Olympics and the Suns in the 1993 NBA Finals. Here’s what the recap had to say on this subject.
A year later, in Game 1 of the 1993 finals against the Suns, Jordan used Dan Majerle to make the same point to Krause. “I knew that Jerry Krause loved Dan Majerle,” Jordan says, “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 that he’s not.” Jordan toyed with Majerle, pausing before blowing past him, crossing him to the next state over, and chastising Krause without saying a word.
During the 1992-93 season, Majerle was an NBA All-Star selection for the second season in a row. That would also be one of his three career All-Star selections. He was having a great regular season, averaging 16.9 points per game, 4.7 rebounds, 3.8 assists, and a career-best 1.7 steals, while shooting 46.4 percent from the field and 38.1 percent from beyond the arc.
In the ’93 finals, Majerle would average less than half the amount of points per game that Jordan did. Jordan would also tie his point total in each of the six games, or outscore him, on every single occasion.
This is the type of chip that Jordan would carry on his shoulder. And it carried over into multiple different rivalries and/or general matchups over the course of his NBA career.
Part of the reason for this grudge was just the constant friction between Krause and the Bulls top players such as Jordan and Pippen. Krause didn’t give his own players the respect, recognition, and treatment they deserved when they were playing for all those great Bulls teams.
The other reason for this was just that natural level of extreme self-motivation that Jordan carried with him. He has to be one of the most competitive athletes in any sport in recent memory. That’s just his personality.
The Bulls would win their third consecutive NBA Championship over the Suns in the 1993 finals. Jordan would retire for the first time from the Bulls the season after, ending the first run of titles for this team in the 1990’s.
Meanwhile, Majerle would play two more seasons with the Suns and then finish up the rest of his career mostly with the Miami Heat. He also had a second stint with the Suns before the end of his career, and one full season with the Cleveland Cavaliers.