DeJuan, about that kill

rkiddo just posted a great find in the fanposts. A quote from DeJuan Blair about a play from his February game against UConn when he scored after being blocked by Hasheem Thabeet.

I felt like an animal at that point. I felt like I wanted to kill. So I killed.

The play in question begins at :38.

I caught up with DeJuan Blair after he was drafted by the San Antonio Spurs, and asked him if he'd like to talk about that kill.

Blair: Sure, if you want to.

jollyrogerwilco: So, you've just been blocked by Thabeet and you're out at the 3pt line on the left side, with the ball. You feel like you wanted to kill, what's next?

B: Well, I was really upset with myself, because I'd fought for such good post position. I had him sealed on my back. I was in the center of the paint, about 5 feet from the bucket, and I had settled for a fadeaway.

JRW: Yeah, you'd gone with a hesitation pump-fake, and he'd stayed on his feet. So he was ready for your shot.

B: Exactly. And I was fortunate enough for the ball to come back to me, and that's when I felt like an animal.

JRW: Describe what that's like for the PtR readers, if you would.

B: Well, you just sort of feel very primal. Everything slows down. You can't hear the crowd or anything else. And there's a focus you feel. Focus mixed with anger, I guess you could say.

JRW: Go on.

B: Anyway, Thabeet was protecting the baseline, shading me a little to my left, so I went with my right hand and drove back into the paint. He showed his quickness and stayed with me. By my third dribble, he was still between me and the bucket, and I was into the heart of the paint. I didn't want to continue to my right because then I'd be moving away from the bucket again, which is how he'd just blocked me.

JRW: And you didn't want that to happen again.

B: It was not going to happen again. I picked up my dribble as I did a jump stop and I found that he was just a bit to my right. So, I just went at him.

JRW: Tell us about that, please.

B: Well, it all happens so quickly, you just fall back on your training. I was about seven feet from the basket at that point. So close, I can just smell the bucket, you know? And so I just ducked under him to the left, used my left as my pivot, brought my right foot right up underneath him, switched the ball to my left hand, jumped in toward the hoop to make my shot, being sure to keep my body between Thabeet and the ball, and I scored.

JRW: With your left hand, off the glass, against an opponent about 8 inches taller than you.

B: Yeah. Well, you know, sometimes you've got to come into a shot blocker's body so that they can't really see where your shot is coming from -- they have less time to react. And at that point, with a little position on him, well, I guess he wasn't prepared for me to come back to my left like that.

JRW: He didn't even seem to leave his feet or even really get a hand up to try to defend the shot.

B: I don't know about that. I just felt the contact, saw the ball go through the net, heard the whistle, and started thinking about hitting the free throw.

JRW: With the kill completed, it was time to clean up, eh?

B: (Chuckles mildly) Heh. Something like that.

This was not an actual interview. I did not meet with DeJuan Blair. He did not chuckle at my lame joke.

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