CMU basketball legend Dan Majerle makes his return to McGuirk


Tianyu Han | Courtesy Photo

CMU alumnus and NBA All-Star Dan Majerle, will return to McGuirk Arena for the Western game at 7 p.m. Jan. 28. His son, Max Marjele, is a freshman on the men's squad. 

Alongside an old tradition of the toilet paper toss returning to McGuirk Arena on Saturday, Central Michigan basketball's perhaps most-renowned player will join the mayhem.   

Dan Majerle, the guard who played for CMU from 1984-1988, will be honored. His return to Mount Pleasant will take place during Saturday's game against rival Western Michigan.

Majerle was given the nickname “Thunder Dan” thanks to his prowess on the court. He was a part of a duo with guard Ervin Leavy who was known as the lightning to Majerle's thunder.  

"He was an outside shooter in college, I was an inside player," Majerle said. "They kind of coined us the thunder and lightning.

"We were the thunder, lightning show and it just kind of stuck." 

Dan Marjele, right, applies defensive pressure to Bowling Green's Lamon Pippin in this 1988 photo from the Central Michigan Life archives. CM Life file photo | Tim Fitzgerald

His jersey, No. 44, hangs in the lights of McGuirk and is one of seven numbers retired by CMU Athletics. However, Majerle's number was brought back down to action this year as it is now worn by his son, Max Majerle.

“When he called me and asked me if he could wear my number, I said it was totally up to him, but I couldn't be more (proud)," Majerle said. "And then to watch him play and see him get better every game and play hard. ... Any parents that watch their kids play, they want (them) to do really well. 

"But like I said, I'm extremely proud of what he's doing and how hard he's working."

Freshman guard Max Majerle plays defense during a game against Eastern Illinois Sunday, Nov. 13 in McGuirk Arena.

The Majerle name runs deep throughout CMU. His brother Jeff Majerle played for CMU between 1987-1991, overlapping with Dan’s senior season. 

In his four seasons as a Chippewa, Dan averaged 21.8 points per game, including a career-high 23.7 points in his senior season. He is second for CMU’s all-time single season point total and fifth all-time in scoring average. In each of his seasons, he led his team in scoring average.

"(It will be) great to be back in Mount Pleasant," Majerle said. "And spend a couple days there and be at the arena and just see everybody and kind of relive the past to see a lot of people that I haven't seen for a long time. So, I'm really looking forward to it, should be a fun weekend."

Among his list of achievements during his decorated career at CMU, Majerle was named to the All-MAC First Team between 1986-88 as well as Mid-American Conference tournament MVP in CMU’s 1986-87 MAC tournament championship. 

Majerle’s final season at CMU was highlighted by being named the 1988 USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year.

After his time at CMU, Dan was drafted 14th overall by the Phoenix Suns in the 1988 NBA Draft. He played with the franchise for seven seasons between before being traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Oct. 7, 1995. In Phoenix, he shared the floor with former MVP Charles Barkley, who publicly voiced his displeasure with the trade.

Majerle's NBA career spanned over 14 seasons. In addition to Phoenix and Cleveland he spent time with the Miami Heat. He was a three-time NBA All-Star selection, as well as a two-time NBA All-Defensive Second-Team selection. 

Majerle is one of three former CMU basketball players in the Mid-American Conference Hall of Fame. He was also an inductee of the CMU Hall of Fame Class of 1998.