Draft night, 2009, the man with no ACLs was overlooked, and unwanted. A first-team All-American and Big East player of the year, he fell all the way to the second round, picked 37th overall by the Spurs.
After four seasons in San Antonio, with his playing time steadily trimmed to the point of completely entering Gregg Popovich's doghouse, he moved north. But not too far north.
And now DeJuan Blair is getting his revenge.
But as it tends to go, it's been a bit bumpy. Game 4, Blair put up a double-double in less than 10 minutes, and appeared to be on his way to being the difference-maker in the Mavericks taking a commanding 3-1 series lead. Instead, he lost his mind momentarily, kicking Tiago Splitter in the head which earned him an ejection and then a one-game suspension for Game 5. Blair spent it in a hotel room in San Antonio, forced to watch his team struggle to find stops down the stretch.
So as the series came back to Dallas for a must-win Game 6, Blair was out to make things right. And in 29 minutes, he had just about the most dominating 3 of 10 shooting night you could. He registered 10 points, 14 rebound and four steals, making play after play down in the final minutes. As Monta Ellis flashed to the rim, Blair was on the other end cleaning up San Antonio misses and blowing up trademark Popovich execution.
If you didn't follow the Blair saga in San Antonio, all this might not seem all that remarkable to you. But Blair curiously found himself at the end of Popovich's bench, despite his always solid production. He's a walking double-double with his robust rear-end and massive paws that he inhales offensive rebounds with. Yet even with a thin Spurs frontline, whether it was for lack of discipline -- as displayed in Game 4 -- or something else, Blair was an afterthought to the point of signing a veteran minimum deal with Dallas last summer.
“I had to leave and come here where I think they'll give me confidence and believe in me,” Blair said last August after signing with the Mavs. “I didn't think they believed in me in San Antonio, so that's pretty good here. I feel supported. That's how it is.”
Now, he's a centerpiece in the eight-seeded Mavericks pushing the mighty Spurs to a decisive seventh game. Pretty sure they might believe in him now.