All-Star experience vindicating for Lee
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Dave Zangaro

This time, the NBA All-Star Game and the weekend are a just a little bit different for David Lee.

OK, they're a lot different.

See this time, Lee’s on a winning team – Golden State is in sixth place in the West. But more importantly, Lee had a chance to plan his weekend a little better this time. OK, a lot better.  

Lee, 29, is a reserve on the Western Conference squad and is making his first All-Star appearance since 2010 with the Knicks.

But back then, Lee was an injury replacement for Allen Iverson. And, he didn’t find out he was an All-Star until a couple days before the game took place.

“Last time I was a replacement 36-48 hours before so it was kind of like a blur,” he said Friday at an All-Star media availability in downtown Houston. “By the time I got down there – there was some bad weather – it seemed like I played in the game and left. Now, it seems like I’m really getting the chance to enjoy it. I feel a lot more comfortable, a lot more mature. I kind of know the ropes a little bit.”

Lee is averaging 19 points and 10.8 rebounds per game while helping lead the Warriors to a 30-22 record. That’s been the best part of the whole experience, he said.

“It is (vindicating),” Lee said. “And because I’m on a winning team and that’s a big part of it. It means a whole lot more because it’s the work of all our teammates and our coaching staff and stuff. It doesn’t feel like it’s one guy putting up numbers despite losing. So it’s rewarding.”

Lee wasn’t sure if he’d ever be an All-Star again, after all, he has been with Golden State for two seasons since leaving the Knicks in free agency.

“I hoped that wasn’t the case but it’s not an easy thing to get back to an All-Star Game,” Lee said. “The fact that I’m here again is a great honor and it’s something that you always have confidence that you can make it back but it’s not like they take 25, 30 guys. There’s a very select few, so it’s a huge honor.”

So what has made the Warriors click so well this season? Lee pointed to two things. First, chemistry. He said the Warriors’ chemistry rivals any team in the league. “Chemistry for us is huge. I think that’s what really steers us in the right direction,” he said.

Second was defense. The Warriors are giving up over 100 points per game but Lee said the team has the skills to be a good defensive team and that’s because of consistency. He said the game plan doesn’t change each night, it’s just up to the players to execute.

The Warriors are looking to head to the playoffs and Lee is an All-Star.

For real  this time.

“I’ve been through some ups and downs as far as teams I’ve been on and trying to find myself in the league but this has really been kind of a dream season thus far,” Lee said. “Our team is doing better than people expected and I’m continuing to get better as a player and it’s something I can build toward an even brighter future.”