David Lee grew up before our eyes while playing in New York, turning himself from a moppy-haired late round pick to the team’s first All-Star in close to a decade. Today, we celebrate his 31st birthday with some of our favorite Knicks highlights and memories of his.
Lee was one of the lone gems of the Isiah Thomas era. After taking Channing Frye way too early in 2005 NBA Draft, Zeke made up for it by plucking D-Lee out with 30th pick of the first round. Lee went on to play five seasons in New York, totaling 4,775 points and 3,529 rebounds, although he was never truly unleashed until 2008, when the Knicks cleared up the depth chart by trading away Zach Randolph. His best campaign with the Knicks was his final one, when he averaged 20.2 points and 11.7 rebounds (both were career-highs) en route to his first NBA All-Star Game.
In typical Knicks fashion, they lost Lee for next to nothing when he decided to join the Golden State Warriors in 2010. New York did manage to pull off a sign-and-trade, but getting Anthony Randolph, Ronny Turiaf, Kelenna Azubuike, and a future second rounder wasn’t nearly enough of a return. The Knicks had bigger fish to fry that summer, and instead of bringing Lee back for less than max dollars, they dumped $100 million into Amar’e Stoudemire. Hind sight is 20/20.
Lee is still kicking it with the Warriors today, and unlike this year’s Knicks, he’s currently playing some postseason basketball. Best of luck, D-Lee, and a Happy 31st Birthday!