Warriors champion D-Lee calls it a career after 12 NBA seasons

By Connor Buestad | connor@section925.com

David Lee announced his presence in the basketball world back in 2001 at the McDonald’s High School All-American Game Dunk Contest. Pitted up against the highest flyers from around the nation, Lee shocked the ESPN audience when he whipped out a pale, shaggy haired version of J.R. Rider’s “East Bay Funk Dunk” as well as a shirtless reverse to win the contest.

By the end of his 12-year NBA career, Lee was thought of more as an unselfish, below the rim role player who helped bring teams together and maximize the talent they were given. But whichever phase of Lee’s career you tuned in for, he was always a joy to watch play the game of basketball.

The All-Everything high school prospect from Missouri would ride his McDonald’s Dunk fame into Gainesville where he cut out a stellar career playing for Billy Donovan and the Florida Gators. The Knicks liked what they saw in Lee enough to grab him in the first round of the 2005 NBA Draft, and for the next five years, Lee would grind out games inside Madison Square Garden for a variety of bad New York teams. By his fifth and final year in Gotham City, Lee earned his first All-Star Game selection while cementing his name in Garden lore as a “great Knick” who “played the game the right way, night in and night out.”

By the end of that fifth season with the Knicks, Lee was traded to Oakland in 2010 to play for coach Keith Smart and the Warriors. In his five seasons with the Dubs, Lee not only served as a tremendous leader but also more or less averaged a triple double with 16.7 points and 9.6 rebounds a game while roaming the frontcourt inside Oracle.

In 2013 with Mark Jackson now steering the Dubs’ ship, Lee was named an All-Star for a second time, while helping the Warriors get back to the playoffs for the first time since the "We Believe" boys back in 2007.

Lee’s career arc reached it’s zenith when the veteran was able to hold the Larry O’Brien trophy for the first time in 2015. Much of Lee’s youthful explosiveness was a thing of the past by now, and he had the injuries to show for it, but that didn’t stop Lee from mentoring younger stars in the making like Draymond Green as the Warriors finally brought a championship back to Oakland.  

With an elusive championship now under his belt, Lee bounced around the NBA for two more seasons, making stops in Boston, Dallas and finally San Antonio before leaving the hardwood for good. Lee now will turn his attention to his recent fiancée Caroline Wozniacki, the Danish tennis star who has enjoyed extensive time as the top ranked female in the world.

Cheers to D-Lee.