Arizona Basketball

Arizona Wildcats top hoops badasses: No. 6 Joseph Blair




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By popular demand, after our publication of Arizona’s Top 10 Football Badasses, brings you the Wildcats’ Top 10 Basketball Badasses. The countdown will be featured in separate blogs.

Previously in the countdown:

No. 10: Jim “Guts” Rappis.

No. 9: Pete Williams

No. 8: John Edgar

No. 7: T.J. McConnell

Arizona’s graduate assistant Joseph Blair did not sulk or shy away from his “war” scar he received yesterday on his forehead during practice.

He posted a picture of the approximate two- to three-inch scratch, a result of him scrapping for the ball at the basket with Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. On his Instagram he posted this along with another photo: Practice war wounds! ‪#‎bloodsweatandtears‬ ‪#‎iputonformyteam‬ ‪#‎dontcallmeafakesupporter‬ ‪#‎scarface‬ ‪#‎stilllookgood‬ ‪#‎thanksRondae‬ ‪#‎onlywaytheycanstopme‬ ‪#‎blackharrypotter‬ ‪#‎larrypotter‬ ‪#‎BlairDown‬ ‪#‎Blairizona‬

(Joseph Blair photo)

Just another example of why Blair belongs on this list.

Opposing fans, who do not know of Blair, probably see him dressed in a suit on the bench and say to themselves: “Glad he’s not playing.” Blair, 6’10” and 250 pounds, looks like he can still ball with the college kids at 40.

To the benefit of Arizona big men Kaleb Tarczewski, Brandon Ashley and Dusan Ristic, Blair can at least join the team in practice. Neither Tarczewski, Ashley or Ristic can say they went up against a better, more physical Pac-12 center than what they see every day against Blair.


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Site founder and award-winning sports journalist Javier Morales has published his first e-book, “The Highest Form of Living”, a fiction piece about a young man who overcomes a troubled upbringing without his lost father and wayward mother through basketball and hope. His hope is realized through the sport he loves. Basketball enables him to get past his fears. His experience on the court indirectly brings him closer to his parents in a unique, heartfelt way. Please order it at Amazon (for only $4.99) by clicking on the photo:


Joseph Blair performs a lot of work in the community, including his Blair Charity Group and talking to students, such as this speech at a Cholla High School assembly this week


Joseph Blair was featured in the March edition of the Tucson Lifestyle magazine

Joseph Blair was featured in the March edition of the Tucson Lifestyle magazine

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“With our frontcourt players in particular, there is nothing like having somebody as big and physical out there to go against as JB is,” Miller said two years ago when he brought Blair on board.

“It will, for example, really help Kaleb Tarczewski. You can really go at a basket for 20 minutes or 30 minutes and get live game repetitions against someone as big and as smart and as physical as JB is. And then the knowledge he has accumulated over his career, he can share that with someone like Kaleb.”

One of Blair’s best games at Arizona was in the 1994 Sweet 16 game against Louisville when he was matched against Clifford Rozier, a 6’11” All-American center who was taken in the first round of the NBA draft that year. Blair’s physical style of defense — constantly bodying up against the opponent making sure they knew he was there — took Rozier completely out of his game.


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Rozier took only four shots in 36 minutes in Arizona’s 82-70 win over Louisville. Reports indicated that Blair “muscled” Rozier and Rozier became a non-factor.

When he was a junior at Arizona, Blair got a tattoo on his left upper arm of a two-color rendition of a fierce bull with its left hoof balanced on a basketball.

“It symbolizes how I play basketball,” Blair told the Tucson Citizen. “Nobody comes near me without getting bumped or bullied around. I’m big and mean and tough.”

When he played 13 years professionally overseas, Blair had his share of physical altercations against the big, brooding Europeans and more than held his own. He became a fan favorite at Arizona and overseas because of his physical, no-nonsense style on the court.

Off and on the court, Blair has always carried an extreme sense of confidence in his ability. The word shy and Blair do not mix, symbolic of a badass.

Before a game against Montana in 1995, Blair drew the ire of Lute Olson by predicting in a television interview that “we’re going to kick Montana’s (rear).” You can guess what the word other than “rear” was. Olson intervened and Blair later responded by saying, “If I can’t say what I want to say, I’m not going to say anything at all.”

Blair’s self-imposed blackout lasted all of one game. After the next victory, he was back to normal.

“All I know is I wanted to come out, jump on them early and kick their (rear),” he said. “Oops, I didn’t mean that. I meant to say beat them bad.”

“Nobody comes near me without getting bumped or bullied around. I’m big and mean and tough.”
— Joseph Blair, explaining a tattoo of a bull on his arm when he was playing with Arizona

Blair has become a fixture in Tucson, aside from his affiliation with Arizona, as the president of Blair Charity Group.

Blair has hosted youth basketball camps since when he was a member of the Harlem Globetrotters and ran their youth camps all across the country. That inspired Blair to run his own camps and eventually start the Blair Charity Group, which focuses on the development Tucson’s youth on and off the court.

“What we do is provide free-of-charge leadership and social-skill based basketball camps and clinics around the Tucson community,” Blair is quoted as saying on Arizona’s Web site. “We lure the kids in with basketball and teach them other skills. It’s also a great way to bring our community together.”

Blair has credited his mother Judith Blair for his desire to give back to his community. Judith made the ultimate sacrifice, donating one of her kidneys to Dr. Michael Burgoon, a former professor of communications at Arizona.

The Arizona Daily Star and the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce honored Joseph two years ago with its “40 under 40” award given to individuals under 40 who are making an impact in the community with their professional and charitable work.

The Star noted: “Upon further discernment, given his philanthropic nature, Joseph’s identity is that of a tough-yet-tender man with a ‘big heart.'” publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He has also written articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.

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