‘Baby Jordan’ shines vs. UCLA Bruins (1992)

Duane Cooper got him the ball. He dribbled left and crossed. In a blink of an eye, sawing Tracy Murray had no serious intentions of double-teaming him, he saw an opening and decided to put on the Move. He was left 1-on-1 with one of the premium perimeter defenders in the college basketball of that time, UCLA’s Gerald Madkins. Lightning-quick cross-over move helped him shake off tenacious Madkins.

In one of the most spectacular moves of 1991/92 NCAA season, USC Trojans junior guard Harold Miner harassed UCLA Bruins’ defense, penetrated deeply into the paint, and then literally exploded for a memorable exclamation point – thunderous two-handed rim-rocking slam dunk over Mitchell Butler

The game between crosstown rivals USC Trojans and UCLA Bruins played on February 27th, 1992, still stands as one of the prime examples of Harold Miner’s offensive brilliance and potential. On that hot L.A. night, Miner toyed with the Bruins defense whole night long, going up for 29 points and 13 boards!

Having a complete offensive package 6’5’’ lefty, starring alongside backcourt mate Duane Cooper, led this George Raveling coached USC ‘wild bunch’ to 24-6 W-L record throughout the 1991/92 season. After stellar NCAA career at the University of South California, Miner was selected as the 12th overall pick in 1992 NBA draft by Miami Heat. One of the four youngest NBA franchises had a promising roster. 

However, except for winning the 1993 NBA All-Star slam dunk contest in Salt Lake, Baby Jordan never fulfilled his enormous potential and thus struggled to find his role with the team from Florida. After a three-year stint with the team which roster featured 1994 Team USA guard Steve Smith and 1997 NBA All-Star MVP Glen Rice, Miner was traded to Cleveland Cavaliers before 1995/96 NBA season.

There Miner played the last 19 games of his four-year NBA career after getting waved in late February of 1996, just after the game with eventual 1996 NBA champion – Chicago Bulls. Next summer, Miner tried with another expansion franchise, Toronto Raptors, but was cut during the preseason. Disappointed, but also bothered with numerous knee injuries, he decided to retire.

Seeing his limitless offensive potential unrealized and him leaving the NBA courts before reaching his prime, many still wonder if Miner’s career would take a different turn if the Heat didn’t draft him.

Basketball Network contributor Murray A. a.k.a. Marjan Crnogaj is the 1980s and 1990s basketball specialist, proud author of the Amazon.com TOP 100 basketball biography ‘Drazen – The Years of the Dragon’.


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