Now’s about the time you’d expect a sore knee to crop up for Warriors forward David Lee.
The seventh-year veteran came to the Warriors hoping his days of meaningless end-of-season basketball were over. Having spent five years playing out the string in New York, and having his postseason hopes dashed last year, Lee finds himself once again with nothing tangible to play for.
What’s more, two of the starters he’d grown used to playing with are now in Milwaukee, another is on the shelf with ankle problems, and the big man he’s longed to play alongside is out until next year. Who could blame Lee for wanting to shut it down, too?
Well, he doesn’t.
“At this point,” Lee said after Tuesday’s shootaround, “it’s about continuing to demand respect by playing hard night in and night out.”
Instead of being fed up with having to do it again, Lee said past experience has helped him to cope. Rather than being inspired by the pursuit of playoffs, Lee is driven to protect his reputation. Rather than throw in the towel until next year, Lee said he’d rather set the tone for next year by finishing hard.
This is what Lee does.
“I was always known inNew Yorkbecause of situations like this where you had to finish out the year strong,” Lee said. “I’d come out and continue to play hard and do my job and be known as a pro and a guy with professionalism. That’s what I want to continue to do here and continue that reputation.”
On top of once again being out of the playoff hunt, Lee is – once again – being forced to play out of position. With Ekpe Udoh gone, center Andris Biedrins out with a strained groin, Lee becomes the starting center. He’ll have to bang withNew Orleans’ Chris Kaman tonight, probablyHouston’s Samuel Dalembert tomorrow.
Of course, Lee is making more than $11 million this year. Perhaps, fans aren’t giving him a cookie for not coming up with a sudden back stiffness. But in a league where players are known for being unhappy, Lee refuses to take that route.
And don’t feel sorry for him, he said.
“We’ve got to make up for it with hustle,” Lee said. “That’s all you can really do. We’re certainly not going to give up. We’ve got to play 23 games either way. Might as well try to go out there and win them and put together the effort this organization deserves.”