DeJuan Blair had a monster game in the Rookie/Sophomore game last night putting up 22 points and 23 rebounds. Many fans felt he was the true MVP of the game and not Tyreke Evans of the Sacramento Kings.
Oh and he also did this. Who says you need ACLs to get up?
DeJuan Blair had a monster game in the Rookie/Sophomore game last night putting up 22 points and 23 rebounds. Many fans felt he was the true MVP of the game and not Tyreke Evans of the Sacramento Kings.
If Becky Hammon and Robert Horry in the celebrity game weren't enough San Antonio representation in Dallas for the opening night's festivities of All-Star Weekend 2010, DeJuan Blair was destined to change that.
Being overlooked is nothing new for the 6-7 Blair, who watched as 29 other NBA GMs passed on him on draft night.
A pregame poll on NBA.com asked which rookie would have the biggest impact on the game. Tyreke Evans, Stephen Curry and Brandon Jennings all made the list, but Blair was nowhere to be found.
But you didn't have to search for him once the game started. His presence was felt early with hustle points and rebounds. Of course that's no surprise to Spurs fans, who see him do the same thing on a nightly basis.
The highlights wouldn't elude him though as he picked off a pass and ran the length of a court. He was rewarded with a pass on the other end and with no one else in front of him, he threw the ball off the glass and slammed it through on the rebound. Needless to say the crowd went crazy!
It was more of the same in the second half as Blair seemed to tear down every rebound, even over 7 ft. center Brook Lopez. It almost seemed as if he was unstoppable, until he got hit in the face and had to be taken in for stitches. Luckily for Spurs fans it wasn't anything serious. Oh and Coach Pop was reported to have called Blair not to check up on his injury but to tell him to stop taking 3-point shots.
But Blair came back with a vengeance showing off his low post game against much taller, and even faster opponents. With seconds left in the game, he jumped out of bounds to save the ball, then came back inbounds for a pass, squared up against Lopez and put him on skates with a spin move. Lopez tried everything but a gang tackle to keep Blair from scoring, but it didn't work. It was fitting Blair got a rebound and a score before the final buzzer went off.
In the end, Blair scored 22 points and led both teams with 23 rebounds. Heading into the final vote, those on Twitter were unanimous, Blair was the MVP. However, in the end, the MVP went to Kings guard Tyreke Evans, who decided to share it with Blair as both players hoisted up the trophy.
So Blair was overlooked yet again, but this time it was by NBA fans. Blair might want to relish being off the radar for now, because this was certainly a night 29 GMs will remember.
Jeff Garcia contributed to this post.
This means the Spurs needs to toughen up from here on out if they want to make it to the post season.
If there is any consolation, the Spurs will have the All-Star Break to figure things out. After that, they will play three teams below .500, Indiana Pacers; Philadelphia 76ers and Detroit Pistons, before heading back home.
However, the rest of the schedule gets a lot tougher after the road trip. The Spurs will hit the road 16 more times and will play 20 teams above .500 in their last 28 games. That doesn't bode well for a team that is 11-11 on the road and 10-18 against teams with winning records.
If that doesn't sound brutal, consider this. The Spurs will have to play the top-tier teams -- Los Angeles Lakers, Cleveland Cavaliers and Orlando Magic twice and have plenty of crucial games that could greatly affect their playoff hopes. They will play the Oklahoma City Thunder, Phoenix Suns, Houston Rockets and the New Orleans Hornets two more times. These teams are currently seeded 6th, 7th, 9th and 10th respectively in Western Conference.
On top of that, they will also face the Boston Celtics, Denver Nuggets and the Dallas Mavericks one more time before concluding the regular season. If the Spurs can’t get their act together in time, they could be in trouble.
In other words, the Spurs can't afford to make too many mistakes from now on. They have done enough of it early in the season. At this point, the margin for error is too small and any continued inconsistency could make or break their season.
The Spurs have to be a lot better on defense and execute smart basketball in close games or they will probably limp just to get to the playoffs or even possibly miss it for the first time in the Duncan era. It's a painful admission, but right now the Spurs look like a team lacking in confidence and searching for answers.
Last month, I questioned the team’s identity because of their lackluster defense. But I still have hopes things will turn around soon. If the Spurs want to salvage this season and try to make it happen in the playoffs, the time is now.
Will the Spurs make it to the playoffs? If they continue playing mediocre defense and rely on jump shots to win ball games they will not.
However, this team still has Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker. All of whom have never missed the playoffs since they entered the league. The team will have to rely on their experience to set the example and guide this team to a strong finish.
It’s going to be a tough stretch but this team has too much pride and talent to let this season slip away without giving it a hell of a fight.
What do you think? Will the Spurs make it to the playoffs? Or will they miss it for the first time since Duncan joined the team? Share us your thoughts.
Arianné Villañueva is back for the latest Spurscast in Spanish. In this episode she goes over the latest Spurs trade rumors, articles on Project Spurs and all the latest Spurs news.
Remember Project Spurs was the first Spurs blog to have a Spurs podcast and the first to have a Spanish podcast for Spanish speaking fans.
Arianné Villañueva esta detras para el mas nuevo Spurscast en Espanol. En este episodio ella discute el mas nuevo rumores del los Spurs, los nuevo articulos de Project Spurs, y todo el mas nuevo noticias de los Spurs.
Y recuerdas que Project Spurs fue el primera pagina de internet a tener una podcast de los Spurs y el primer para tener un podcast espanol para los fanaticos de habla espanol.
In just a few short days, the NBA All-Star game makes its return back to Texas. But 14 years ago, the NBA made San Antonio its stage.
I was a senior at Fox Tech High School in Downtown San Antonio at the time and it was as if my dreams came true.
Since I was about 10 years old, it's been my yearly ritual to set aside my entire weekend for All-Star Weekend. It's one of my favorite times of the year and it also usually lands around my birthday so I was always able to get away with being a couch potato for the entire weekend.
I always got home from school on Friday with plenty of time to carve my spot out on our living room couch and hopefully before everyone else so I could take control of the tv and remote for that night. I watched whatever All-Star programming the NBA had for me, whether it was the rookie game, legends game, celebrity game. It didn't matter, I was watching it.
On Saturdays, I woke up early to watch Inside Stuff and the NBA Jam Session and prepared for the night's festivities by begging for pizza. My parents usually obliged and I sat with eyes wide open as I consumed all of All-Star Saturday night and made bets with my brothers on who would win each event.
Then on Sunday, to end it all, I watched every minute of the All-Star Game, including pregame and post game. I remember one year I did something stupid and my parents punished me, taking away my television privileges the day of the all-star game. I told my Mom a few years ago that on that day I went to my room, closed the door, put my small 12-inch tv on the floor and watched the game laying on the floor with the volume turned almost all the way down. That was the year Magic and Isiah had an epic battle and it was also Magic's last All-Star game.
That's been my ritual now for about 22 years, going on 23 this weekend. Yes I know it sounds pitiful, but what can I say, I love the game.
So in 1996 I hear that All-Star weekend is coming to San Antonio and I'm ecstatic. While I would love to go to the game or even the Saturday night festivities, I know it's unrealistic. My dad was in and out of the hospital and what I didn't know then was that this was just four months before he passed away. My mom also left her job so she could take care of my dad and the last thing I expected was to have the money to go to any of the events and see all of the NBA stars.
But I got lucky the Friday of All-Star Weekend. The stars came to me.
It had been announced that morning that there would be a special presentation and one of the Spurs players would be in attendance. Only juniors and seniors could attend so I was set.
When we got into the auditorium and the emcee introduced Sean Elliott, I couldn't believe my luck. Sean Elliott was my favorite player and I had just seen him up close once. It was at an NBA Draft Party where he signed my rookie card. When he asked me how I was doing I froze and somehow got the word "okay" out.
So Sean spoke and I listened while I thanked my lucky stars. I was happy enough with Sean, but then he said "well, I don't want to take up too much of your time, let me let the real stars speak."
Following Sean were Vin Baker and Scottie Pippen. David Robinson's parents, Ambrose and Freda, closed out the event with a motivational speech. I left that assembly on such a high. I could not wait to see the players play at the All-Star game on tv and point to them and say that I got to see them up close.
As soon as school ended that Friday, my best friend and I walked through Downtown to get to the area around the Alamodome. All of the games were being played inside the Alamodome, but there were several smaller events being played in the area, where basketball courts had been erected. We got to watch a lot of the action, and stand outside of the Alamodome, then stand outside of where the Jam Session was going to be and just take in the atmosphere. It wasn't like we were new to San Antonio, but it just felt special. Maybe it was knowing media from all over the country were in town, or that so many NBA players were around, or just seeing all of the All-Star banners and posters hung around downtown and on the lamp posts. I don't think I got home until past 10 p.m. That was probably one of the only times I missed watching all of the Friday night events, but it was worth it.
The next morning, of course I caught Inside Stuff and got to see Ahmad Rashad and Willow Bay with my hometown as the backdrop. It was really cool to see all the b-roll footage of San Antonio. That morning I also got a call from my eldest brother, Anthony, who said he was taking my nephew to the Jam Session and asked if I wanted to go. I probably responded with "hell yea I want to go."
So my brother, my nephew and I headed off for the convention center. After we parked and crossed the steet, a limo stopped right in front of us and we saw Rasheed Wallace, just feet from us, get escorted in.
My brother paid for our tickets and off we went. I was 18 years old at the time, but I wasn't too old to have the time of my life. We played just about every game, I stood in David Robinsons's footprints and stood next to a cutout of Michael Jordan. I even stopped at a both set up with a mic and a bunch of tvs to see if I could do play-by-play for a recorded game. I didn't do so well. Who would know then that I would be doing a weekly Spurs podcast and monthly NBA podcast now.
We spent probably a good four hours at the Jam Session. I must've spent an hour of it in the basketball card exhibition, looking to beef up my collection with more Spurs players. I ended up with another Sean Elliott card, two Cory Alexander rookie cards, a Doc Rivers card and a David Robinson card. I still have those cards to this day with the rest of my childhood sports card collection in a large tub in my garage.
I can't remember how many times I thanked my brother for taking me but it wasn't enough. That's one of my fondest memories in what amounted to a very hard year in my life. That day I got to be be a kid again and not have a single worry. After the Jam Session, we walked around downtown a bit to soak up a bit more of the atmosphere and check out some of the events. Planet Hollywood was opening so we went and stood outside with my nephew on my brothers shoulders as we took in a live concert with none other than Bruce Willis singing.
We got home in time for all of the Saturday night festivities, and in enough time for me to be outraged that some dude named Brent Barry did the same dunk twice to win the dunk contest. I understood that it was special that he was the only caucasian to ever win the dunk contest, but I thought there were more creative dunks that weren't repeated. Of course, when he became a Spur several years ago, I forgave him.
The All-Star game closed out an awesome weekend for me, even though I wanted to vomit when I saw the jerseys some San Antonio marketing agency came up with to represent the city. Seriously, a jalapeño with a basketball on the end with the ugliest colors ever and some weird triangle pattern for the trim. I wondered if maybe they let kids at some middle school draw costumes and the winner got to have their design used for the official jerseys. I'll never forget that, but I digress.
I loved watching my hometown guys, David Robinson and Sean Elliott, playing in the All-Star game and holding their own. I thought David Robinson deserved the MVP that year no matter what Shaq did to him, and not just because it was his hometown. Michael Jordan, the eventual MVP, had 20 points and four rebounds. Robinson had a more complete game with 18 points, 11 rebounds, two blocked shots and two steals. If Robinson wasn't going to get it, then Shaq, as much as it pains me to say it, should have won it.
My West team ended up losing to the East 118-129, but I still loved watching the game and I was proud hearing that it was the largest crowd in All-Star game history, with 36,037 in attendance.
That weekend was special for me, and it was special for San Antonio. 14 years has been too long to wait, and I hope that the NBA will bring it back to San Antonio soon. Then, nothing will stop me from taking it all in, hopefully this time from the AT&T Center.
But for now, I'll be more than happy to set part of my weekend aside to watch it all from someone's couch. Maybe now that I'm turning 33 and not 18, I'll choose something a little more nutritious than pizza for my game meal. Oh, who am I kidding? I'll take a half cheese, half pepperoni lovers thin and crispy. Care to join me?
Yesterday, Project Spurs presented the All-Spur Three-Point Shootout. Spurs fans weighed in and left their thoughts. Today we present the All-Spur Dunk Contest. Enjoy.
With the All Star game coming up this weekend, one event all NBA fans look forward to is the Dunk Contest. The creativity, the power, the hang-time, and the rim-rocking dunks that get all in attendance off their seats. Unfortunately for Spurs fans, no Spur was selected to compete for the dunk title.
But that won't stop us here at Project Spurs from having an All-Spur dunk contest. The contestants will be from this year's Spurs squad. So without further delay here are the contestants for the 2010 All-Spur Dunk Contest.
Just in his second season with the Spurs, Hill has made an impression not only on Spurs fans but also on Coach Pop. Not only can he get it done on the offensive and defensive end of the court, Hill is athletic and can get up and finish at the rim. Ask the Timberwolves.
Mainly known for his three point shooting, Bonner has shown he can get up and throw it down with some authority. No really he can. He has an epic two inch vertical, no hang-time, and no style means only pure Bonner awesomeness. Ask the Toronto Raptors if Bonner is just a shooter.
He may be drawing the ire of Spurs fans right now with his lackluster play but there is no doubting Jefferson can finish with authority and with power. He can also still posterize a player. Ask Greg Oden.
Well there you have it Spurs fans. Your candidates for the 2010 Project Spurs All-Spur Dunk Contest. Who will you be giving a "10" or a "0" to for their dunks? Will it be the young George Hill? How about Bonner or Jefferson? Who do you have winning the event?
But for all their fault, the Spurs are still in playoff position. However, with the way they are playing, there are concerns the Spurs could have a "one and done" performance in the playoffs just like what happened against the Mavericks in the 2009 NBA playoffs. But it's good to point out that in a playoff series, the bench plays an important part for the team to succeed.
This year, the Spurs have arguably the deepest bench in the entire NBA and that could make a whole lot of difference for the Spurs. Outside of Manu Ginobili, two young players could play vital roles in the Spurs' playoff success this season -- George Hill and DeJuan Blair.
Let's talk about George Hill first. After a year under his belt, Hill's game tremendously improved, he is proving to be a reliable scorer and a capable defender. This season Hill has solid averages of 10.9 points and 2.3 assists in 26 minutes of play.
Another good thing about George Hill is his versatility. He can play both guard positions. This means he can fill the backup point guard spot or play along side Tony Parker.
As the season progresses, Hill continues to look more confident and is really coming into his own. He has scored in double digits in 10 straight games and is averaging 16.6 points and 3.0 assist in 36 minutes of action in the last five games.
Even the return of Tony Parker in the lineup, didn't affect Hill's performance. He led the Spurs in a win over the Clippers scoring 22 points on 8-for-11 FG in just 29 minutes of action. This clearly showed that Hill is more than just a backup point guard.
If Hill can give Tony Parker much needed rest in games, and at the same time provide additional firepower and defensive tenacity off the bench, that will be huge for the Spurs.
What about DeJuan Blair? He provides excellent rebounding and energy on the floor. His nose for the ball and ability to use his body to get inside position is unbelievable. What he lacks in height, he compensates with hard work and determination. And he has proved he can be effective with limited minutes.
For the season, Blair is averaging 7.5 points and 6.4 rebounds while shooting 54.7% from the floor in just 18 minutes per ball game.
Right now, DeJuan Blair is proving to be a capable backup to Tim Duncan. And when the Spurs decided to give Duncan a break? Blair showed how dominant he can be when given the chance.
He also seems to get more comfortable with his role as the season goes on. During the last five games, his numbers improved to 11.4 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1 steal in 19 minutes of action. His field goal and free throw shooting percentages also went up to 60% and 81.8% respectively.
There is no doubt that George Hill and DeJuan Blair are helping the Spurs in getting some wins this season. If they can continue with their steady plays towards the playoffs, the Spurs could be a tough team to beat. The energy and hustle that these guys bring to the Spurs could go a long way.
Are you impressed with George Hill and DeJuan Blair’s performances so far? Do you agree that both players will play a vital role in the Spurs’ playoff run? Share us your thoughts.
Michael De Leon and Jeff Garcia went live minutes after the Lakers thrashing of the Spurs without Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum.
We broke down the game quarter by quarter, discussed the Spurs problem areas, ranted about Richard Jefferson and took your calls.
Be sure to look out for our next live show next week.
Just when Spurs fans think it can't get any worse this season, now this. A year ago, in February 2009, we here at Project Spurs posted a story about photos surfacing of a nude George Hill. Well seems after a year, the issue has resurfaced.
"The San Antonio Spurs are SOL in their attempt to have nude pics of one of their players removed from a website -- for now -- because the site's lawyer just said the pics of their player's basketballs are there to stay."
For obvious reasons, the Spurs want the photos taken down since it shines a negative light on their otherwise "choir-boy" image. Seems the Spurs organization will continue to fight the website in removing the photos.
However, it's in Hill's and the Spurs best interest to take a page out of Greg Oden's book when his nude photos surfaced. Come clean and defuse the issue now. Don't drag this out fighting it in court. Coming clean, admitting it was a lapse in judgment and apologizing to the fans and to the Spurs organization will simply display Hill's character and willingness to take ownership in his mistake. It is simply that, a mistake. Now lets move on.
George Hill has issued an apology over the nude photos.
In a statement issued by the team on Tuesday, Hill said: “A year ago I made a mistake and take full responsibility for my actions. I have matured and learned from this episode.”
This is exactly what Hill should have done a year ago in February 2009 when it first went public. Regardless, this was the right decision for Hill and the Spurs organization. Now let's move on.
Two Western Conference teams intrigued by Thomas are the Nuggets, patiently seeking a big man to contend with the Lakers, and the Spurs, who were characterized by two rival executives as desperate to acquire an athletic big man. “They feel like they have to do something, like they’re behind the eight ball a little bit,” one of the execs said. The Spurs have a full complement of expiring contracts that would intrigue the Bulls, who want to avoid losing a significant player with no compensation (see Ben Gordon) for the second straight summer.
I mentioned Thomas as a potential trade acquisition in my mailbag post yesterday about Manu Ginobili.
While the Spurs have a young athletic big man in DeJuan Blair, his height is certainly an issue and the Lakers took advantage of that last night. Have an explosive, athletic center next to Tim Duncan is intriguing, but Thomas is at a point where he's got to mature fast or he'll never be more than potential.
His days in Chicago are numbered after rookie Taj Gibson took his spot in the starting lineup and after he was suspended for cussing out Vinny Del Negro.
At times, Thomas looks like the next great big man who could one day become an all-star and other times he looks like a confused D-Leaguer playing his first NBA game. The mental aspect is a huge issue, but I think he could thrive under the tutelage of Tim Duncan and with Pop coaching him.
If the Spurs just lose a few expiring contracts, it might be worth the risk to get Thomas and see if he can turn into the center the Spurs have been looking for since David Robinson retired.
RJ on the trading block
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports wrote today about the Spurs patience with Richard Jefferson running low. He also mentioned that league sources say the Spurs have brought up Jefferson's name in trade talks with no takers.
As Jeff Garcia and I talked about on last night's Laker's recap live show, Jefferson has been a bust and is definitely not earning his $14 million contract. I'm sure the Spurs will continue to shop Jefferson, and we'll have a few trade scenarios of our own on Project Spurs next week.