Our Farewell To The Dancing Bear
Jan 29, 2012; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks power forward Dirk Nowitzki (right) guards San Antonio Spurs forward DeJuan Blair (45) during the game at the American Airlines Center. The Mavericks defeated the Spurs 101-100. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
It became official yesterday that DeJuan Blair will be dawning a Dallas Mavericks jersey next season. Once the news broke, I quickly reached out to the Air Alamo staff to give me their thoughts on Blair. Reflecting on him whether it were his days at Pittsburgh or on draft night.
Senior Staff writer John Diaz and writer Jason Graham laid out the days that they most remember about DeJuan Blair. I too would like to take the time to state what I feel about Blair while on the San Antonio Spurs.
Watching DeJuan dominate while at Pittsburgh, I knew that he would be a guy that one day would possibly dawn a Spurs jersey. I did not think that he would fall as far down as he did during the 2009 draft. There were many issues, mostly to his knees, that made many teams pass Blair the way they did. Low and behold, he fell to the Spurs and frankly, right then, I knew that they were going to select him.
He possessed everything that the Spurs organization is all about. Hard work, giving every possession on the floor your best, and all and all, he had a nose for the ball.
I was extremely excited about Blair coming on. Just like John Diaz, I too remember that rookie sophomore game where Blair went completely bananas dropping 22 points and 23 rebounds.
What I will remember about Blair is that no matter how many minutes he got, he always laid it out on the floor.
Mar, 16, 2012; Oklahoma City OK, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward DeJuan Blair (45) dunks against Oklahoma City Thunder during the third quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena Mandatory Credit: Richard Rowe-USA TODAY Sports
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.
Feb 10, 2013; New York, NY, USA; San Antonio Spurs center DeJuan Blair (45) gestures after scoring during the second quarter against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Graham | Air Alamo Staff Writer
I remember watching DeJuan Blair in the 2009 NCAA Tournament, leading Pitt to the Elite Eight and losing to Villanova. I remember all the questions about his knees and his durability, falling in the 2009 draft to the Spurs in the 2nd round at pick number 37. I remember his hustle and energy during his rookie year, reminding me of Malik Rose and making me smile every time he dove on the floor, beat his man down the court on a fast break, or out-rebounded guys 4 to 6 inches taller than him.
I thought he would be a Spur for a long time. I thought Pop would figure out a way to find him minutes, even with the emergence of Tiago Splitter and the addition of Boris Diaw, but that was not the case. I wish him luck. I know he will continue to play with a high level of energy and I know that he will play with a chip on his shoulder whenever he plays against the Spurs.
Take care Dancing Bear… you will be missed.