John Diaz | Air Alamo Senior Staff Writer
I remember being at a party during the 2009 NBA Draft. The Spurs didn’t have a first round pick (Thanks a lot, Kurt Thomas trade.) so I could relax and enjoy it, while ridiculing other teams for their picks. Seeing Hasheem Thabeet go second overall to the Grizzlies and thinking about how DeJuan Blair destroyed him in college, was hilarious. Blair would be a steal for any team that picked him up. The modern day, poor man’s version of Dennis Rodman or Charles Barkley.
And then came the fall.
Out of the Top-5. Out of the Top-10. Psycho T, Earl Clark, Austin Daye…suddenly Blair was out of the Top-15 and falling rapidly. Word started to spread that an MRI of the 6’7″ forward’s knees, was scaring teams away. Suddenly, with the Spurs in need of frontcourt help, Blair playing in silver and black became a real possibility.
With the 35th pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, the Detroit Pistons select: “DeJuan…” (holds breath) Summers. DaJuan Summers was gone, and with one more pick remaining before the Spurs, DeJuan Blair was still available.
The Spurs won the lottery. Or at least we celebrating like it. Maybe we had too much to drink at that draft party, but we were convinced the Spurs just drafted the biggest steal in NBA history, since Manu Ginobili going 57th overall. Only it wasn’t.
Blair played excellent for two seasons, but Tiago Splitter eventually usurped his starting role. He had major flaws in his game. His immaturity and weight were always an issue. He just wasn’t tall enough and he wasn’t skilled enough offensively or defensively, to make the impact Barkley and Rodman did. The numbers show a different story. Of course Blair is a very efficient rebounding and scorer, but watching him actually play…he’s normally rebounding his own mess.
DeJuan Blair is that guy on your team when you’re playing pick up games, that you feed in the post, and he proceeds to blow the same layup three times on the same possession. You plead with him to pass it back out, but he keeps getting his own board and won’t stop until he finally makes it.
No matter how much I started to despise “The Dancing Bear,” I always had a soft spot for him. I hated his tweets. I hated his Instagram rants about his lack of playing time. But watching him succeed always gave me joy. The 22 points and 23 rebounds he had in the Rookie-Sophomore game, topped off with Blair throwing himself an alley-oop off the backboard. The performance he had against the Mavericks back in January, when Timmy & Co. got the night off. Even the spin move and circus shot he had against the Grizzlies in this year’s Western Conference Finals.
He may never be the player I envisioned him becoming. But he will always be a fan favorite, and will be (slightly) missed. I wish you the best, DeJuan. Whether that’s in Dallas, Washington or China, I hope you succeed and spread your positivity where ever you go.
Just not against San Antonio.