Unlike the concept of karma, loyalty isn’t often reciprocated.
Dan Majerle’s assistant coaching tenure in Phoenix is over. Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic confirmed on Tuesday morning that the Suns Ring of Honor member and five-year assistant coach won’t return to the team.
Two days of absence from team practices after being skipped over in favor of Lindsey Hunter for the interim coaching position made it nothing surprising, and fellow assistant coach Elston Turner’s similar position makes it appear that he could be headed out the door as well.
What is surprising is how this might allude to discord in the organization, of course. Alvin Gentry’s coaching staff was clearly loyal, and it was a fresh breath in an NBA world where business often rules supreme.
Marjerle’s role as a community member in Phoenix since he was drafted by the team in 1988 is the main reason for that. He spent seven seasons with the Suns and then returned to the franchise leading into his retirement. His pushups following a three-pointer that ended his NBA career were engrained in everyones minds as one of the best Phoenix send-offs — it said about as much about Majerle’s personality than’s attempted subtle exit last season said about his own.
Now, this isn’t a time to condemn the Suns’ front office completely. We don’t know the full story behind it, and loyalty to Alvin Gentry and even Turner is something that probably pushed Majerle to his decision.
However, Marjerle’s decision is a blatant sign that the Suns aren’t the same franchise that, behind Cotton Fitzsimmons, told Phoenix fans they’d be sorry for booing a young man back in 1988. We all knew this.
Dan Majerle’s loyalty to Phoenix was ever clear. A successful restaurant chain only added the physical evidence that he had an imprint in the city as much as it had on him.
It’s not time to act like Majerle is riding off into the sunset. In fact, as we’ve said about Gentry, he’ll probably enjoy the next few months a lot more than he would if he’d been stuck with a struggling Suns team.
As the head coach of the Suns Summer League squad, Majerle said this July that he’d love to one day find a head coaching opportunity. Now, the option for that to happen in Phoenix is gone, and that’s a shame if he wasn’t given a fair look. It’s a shame because the team once took a risk on him. He made that risk pay off 10-fold.
The Suns are going with a clean slate — as far as the roster goes, a bare one — and they’ll need another Majerle-esque storyline in the next permanent head coach or draft pick to make people forget about this season.