DeJuan Blair

Basketball player

DeJuan Blair

DeJuan Lamont Blair (born April 22, 1989) is an American professional basketball player who last played for Austin Spurs of the NBA G League. He played college basketball for the Pittsburgh Panthers from 2007 to 2009. After an outstanding sophomore season, he entered the 2009 NBA draft where he was selected in the second round, 37th overall by the San Antonio Spurs. He played 424 games in the NBA for San Antonio Spurs (2009 – 2013), Dallas Mavericks (2013-2014) and Washington Wizards (2014-2016).

The ACL injury

How can DeJuan Blair play without an ACL in either knee?

DeJuan Blair has no Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) in either knee—the result of two high school surgeries. How can Blair play at a professional level without an ACL to call his own?
During his high-school surgeries, Blair’s doctors did not purposefully remove his ACLs—the going theory is that they tried to repair some partial damage to the ligaments and failed. Then, over time, Blair’s ACLs deteriorated to the point of disappearance. Since this was a gradual change, his muscles and other ligaments could have adapted slowly to the added strain. Without such an adjustment period—if his doctors had simply cut out the ligaments, for example—it’s likely he would have injured himself on the court quite rapidly. Blair is now thought to face a higher risk of damaging his knees (especially his meniscus) than athletes with repaired ACLs—and he may end up with osteoarthritis.

“I don’t even know,” Blair said regarding knowledge of his lack of ACLs. “I just found out (in 2009).”

Although Blair led the country in rebounding at the University of Pittsburgh and was the Big East Co-Player of the Year and the only Pitt player in the last 50 years to make first-team All-American, the knowledge of Blair’s lack of ACLs in both knees dropped his NBA draft position to the second round, 37th pick.  Many NBA scouts and coaches considered this one of the best steals of the draft.  Blair, on the other hand, was not happy.

“I play hard,” Blair said. “I know that there are players way taller than me. I am one of the smallest centres in the league. But at the same time I think that I have one of the biggest hearts in the league. I am just going to keep playing hard.”
“All the teams that didn’t pick me, I’m with the Spurs now,” Blair said. “I’m going to make them regret it.”

On June 25, 2009, Blair was selected by the San Antonio Spurs with 37th overall pick in the 2009 NBA draft. His stock fell because of questions surrounding his durability and knee surgeries. On July 17, he signed a four-year deal with the Spurs. In his first NBA game, he posted a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds in 23 minutes against the New Orleans Hornets on October 28, thus becoming just the third Spurs rookie, along with David Robinson and Tim Duncan, to record a double-double in his debut with the team.

He later recorded 28 points and 21 rebounds in 31 minutes against the Oklahoma City Thunder on January 13, 2010, becoming first NBA rookie since Tim Duncan in the 1997–98 season to post a 20-20 game. In the team’s final regular season game, he recorded 27 points, a season-high 23 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals in 37 minutes against the Dallas Mavericks on April 14, becoming the first rookie since Joe Smith in 1995–96 to post two 20-20 games in the same season. Blair also participated in the 2010 Rookie Challenge, where he recorded 22 points and 23 rebounds. Sacramento Kings guard Tyreke Evans won the game MVP award, but graciously offered to share it with Blair. At the season’s end, he was named to the NBA All-Rookie Second Team and was the only Spurs player to appear in all 82 regular season games. He started 23 games, averaging 7.8 points and 6.4 rebounds in 18.2 minutes per game. He was also the top-ranked rookie in field goal percentage (.556), and was second in rebounding.

In 2010–11, Blair appeared in 81 games, including 65 starts, averaging 8.3 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.17 steals, and 1.0 assist in 21.4 minutes per game. He scored in double figures 28 times, including two 20-plus games, and posted 17 double-doubles, with 12 of those coming after the turn of the new year.

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