This year the Spurs are celebrating their 50th season in San Antonio. There have been many highs and a few lows. One trademark of the San Antonio Spurs has been their culture and consistency. The keys to those qualities lie in their players. Always noted for development as well as being ahead of the curve on scouting international players, the Spurs way has made them one of the most successful organizations of all time. As we look back on the Silver and Black, we recognize the top 50 players in franchise history. Each day, we will move up the countdown.
47 - DeJuan Blair
DeJuan Blair is a somewhat contentious player among Spurs fans. He was a stop-gap in the starting lineup during a juncture of the dynasty that saw a failed Richard Jefferson experiment as Tim Duncan transitioned towards becoming a full-time center.
The undersized power forward burst onto the NBA scene for San Antonio as their most successful second-round pick since Manu Ginobili, securing All-Rookie Second-Team honors in 2010. But things quickly went downhill for the “Dancing Bear” as his archaic brand of basketball opened the door for newcomers like Tiago Splitter and Boris Diaw to overtake his rotational minutes.
In his final season donning Silver and Black, Blair was an afterthought for a 2013 Finals team that fell heartbreakingly short of their fifth title. Rather than work his way back into the good graces of Gregg Popovich, the then 23-year-old made his frustrations public before signing with the interstate rival Dallas Mavericks and telling local media the Spurs would have won if he got more run.
As if destined by fate, the Spurs and Mavericks would square off in round one of the 2014 NBA Playoffs, where officials would toss Blair from Game 4 for kicking Splitter in the back of the head following a collision that left them briefly tangled on the hardwood. His actions resulted in a one-game suspension, but his career soon fizzled out as he appeared in 58 contests with the Wizards before a month-long stint in the CBA.
The former Rising Star spent the next three years between the G League and Argentina, culminating in a serendipitous reunion with his former club when the Austin Spurs took Blair 107th overall in the 2018 G League Draft. The six-seven bruiser posted 8.5 points per game, gaining the attention of Victoria Libertas in Italy. Sadly, they voided his contract as FIBA issued a two-year suspension for violating their anti-doping policy.
Controversy and weight issues marred what might have been a fruitful journey for Dejuan Blair, though Spurs fans should remember all the times he put a smile on their face. The small-ball four rocked rims without ACLs in his knees, an achievement that laid the groundwork for Zion Williamson to thrive in the pace-and-space era. While that might be an exaggeration, who can forget his 20-20 performance at the 2010 Rookie Challenge?
Next up: A Tim Duncan draft classmate who was a part of San Antonio’s first title team.
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