Before signing a one-year prove it deal with the Dallas Mavericks in the off season, forward DeJuan Blair spent the first four seasons of his career as a member of the San Antonio Spurs.
He returned during this first-round playoff series as a villain to the majority of Spurs fans because of his tough play and most notably a kick to the head of Tiago Splitter that earned him a one-game suspension.
Boos rained down on him nearly every time he touched the ball. But when Blair walked off the floor after Sunday’s 119-96 loss, he walked into the waiting arms of Spurs coach Greg Popovich and center Tim Duncan.
Both wanted to let him know how proud they were of him for they way he played and competed _ though Popovich in more colorful language.
“He just said he was proud of me and the way to ‘handed it to us in our rear end’,” Blair said. “That’s what he said. (Duncan) said he was proud of me too. And he was happy for me, coming out and playing the way I did. Of course it makes you feel good. I still have respect for all of them. Things didn’t work out here. I had to go some where else.”
Blair, who signed a one-year deal with the Mavericks, hopes he doesn’t have to go anywhere else next year. He believes he proved himself worthy of a multi-year contract extension in Dallas.
He averaged 6.4 points and 6.4 rebounds in the series but most importantly gave the Mavericks much needed toughness and intensity.
“I think I did a good job doing that this season and this series,” Blair said. “I just worked hard and played like I know how. Hopefully I can come back to Dallas and we can get another shot at it.”