NBA Draft

Joseph Blair and Stanley Johnson make NBA headlines on MLK Day

SALT LAKE CITY, UT – DECEMBER 18: Montrezl Harrell #6 of the Washington Wizards talks with coach Joseph Blair during warmups before their game against the Utah Jazz December 18, 2021 at the Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.(Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

The stories of former Arizona Basketball stars finding success and making headlines in the NBA are ones that we thoroughly enjoy writing. 

Former Arizona Basketball stars Joseph Blair (1992-96) and Stanley Johnson (2015) made headlines on Monday night on Martin Luther King Day in the NBA.

As Covid has changed all of our lives in one way or another, in the NBA, it was the blessing that some of our Wildcats needed to prolong, jump start, or even restart their careers playing or coaching professional basketball.

Let’s take Brandon Williams (2019) for example. Unfortunately, B-Will wasn’t drafted in the 2021 NBA Draft, but he kept working out to pursue his dream of playing professional basketball.

This past October, Williams signed an NBA G-League contract with the Westchester Knicks and scored 29 points in a game during the G-League Winter Showcase on December 22.

On December 26, Williams signed a 10-day contract with the Portland Trail Blazers (where Matt Brase is an Assistant Coach) and in his first game, he scored 7 points making both field goal attempts. After his 10-day was up, he returned to the Westchester Knicks on January 5.

Former Wildcat Joseph Blair got a chance at coaching, becoming a Head Coach of the Philadelphia 76ers.

On Monday, Martin Luther King Day, Blair got his first NBA win as a head coach. Now if you follow coach Blair like we do, you would know that he enters the arena each game day by bellowing out “GAME DAY” but on Monday he was too busy for that!

JB got the opportunity to replace the head coach of the Washington Wizards, Wes Unseld Jr., who was in Covid protocols. And as the Wizards played the 76ers, their team earned the win, beating the 76ers 117-98 for Blair’s first win as an NBA Head Coach.

“You know there are certain moments in your life that are firsts that are without a doubt memorable and will stick with you for the rest of your life and in your heart, ” Blair explained in the post-game press conference. “Not only for me but my children, my mother, bless her soul, I can just imagine her crying tears of joy. So words don’t do justice in the moment. No matter what happens moving forward in my coaching career, that moment is one that I will take with me the rest of my existence.”

Wow, that’s powerful stuff. We couldn’t be happier for this Wildcat, as we continue to follow his journey in life and career.

Not only did Blair get a celebration shower courtesy of Montrezl Harrell in the locker room, but he was also able to speak about the weight of the day and playing on Martin Luther King Day. He was adamant that the media not tie the day to basketball but to honor the late, King.

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