A second-round NBA Draft pick in 1996 who never stuck in the league, former Arizona standout Joseph Blair broke through as a coach on Wednesday.
Blair led Houston’s G League team to a championship win over Long Island last season after spending three seasons with the Vipers as an assistant.
“Just blessed!” Blair tweeted about his new job. “Sincerely, deeply, profoundly, undeniably, unmistakably blessed!”
Super excited and blessed to announce that I will be joining the staff of the Philadelphia 76ers! Thanking God for the blessings and opportunities He has laid before me! #TheNBAVegan #blessed #HisPlan… https://t.co/gGMkllzJ11— Joseph Blair (@Blairplayer) June 26, 2019
Just blessed! Sincerely, deeply, profoundly, undeniably, unmistakably blessed! #sixers #nba #CoachJB #TheCoachingVegan #TheVeganCoach #TheGodlyVegan #TheBeardedCoach #TheGodlyVegan https://t.co/v7juEyUBt0— Joseph Blair (@Blairplayer) June 26, 2019
Blair will join former Spurs assistant Ime Udoka on the Sixers’ bench next season under head coach Brett Brown.
“I am excited and proud to welcome Ime and Joseph to our program,” Brown said in a statement. “The depth of basketball knowledge and experience that each brings to our bench will be integral in furthering the success we have enjoyed over the last two seasons.”
Blair played for four seasons at UA under Lute Olson before becoming a second-round pick of the Seattle SuperSonics in the 1996 NBA Draft.
He then spent 13 seasons playing overseas and for the Harlem Globetrotters. During his pro career, Blair made Tucson his second home and founded the Blair Charity Group, which provides camps and clinics for undeserved young players in Southern Arizona.
Blair returned to UA in 2013 to finish his undergraduate degree and start working toward a career in coaching. He served in a managerial role as an undergraduate assistant for the Wildcats in 2013-14, then went on to pursue a master’s in educational leadership in 2014-15, when he became a graduate manager.
The graduate position ran out after the 2014-15 season. Blair then became an assistant coach for the Vipers under Matt Brase, another former UA coach and staffer.
Blair made it clear he is excited about the next move, too.
“I’m honored and excited to work alongside Brett, this staff, and team, as well as being a part of such a historic, respected, and energetic organization,” Blair said in a Sixers statement. “I look forward to learning, growing, and adding value, all while producing positive results for the city and the organization.”
Blair was on the UA staff when 76ers guard T.J. McConnell played for the Wildcats, although McConnell does not appear likely to return to Philadelphia next season.