Leading up to it, this whole 2010 ordeal was just annoying. That's it, nothing more. I wasn't swept up in the banter. I facepalm'd at all the posturing from fans, especially Knicks fans. I didn't care to speculate about who was going where. And I damn sure wasn't attached to any of these big names - after all, they weren't my big names. I felt this way until Thursday night when the biggest name finally announced his decision to leave Cleveland. No, I wasn't upset that the team didn't ink the most absurd basketball specimen I've ever witnessed. I wasn't upset that testing my fanhood for two years was going to be considered by many as a waste. I don't care what they think. What I cared about was Cleveland, not the franchise, but the fans. I realized an entire city was just devastated and it made me think about fans and what they lost in 2010. And it finally made me realize what I was about to lose.
See, for any fanbase in position to lose its favorite player, it feels like your girlfriend moving for grad school. You don't really want to deal with it until you have to, until the boxes are in the hallway. Or maybe that's just me, but, fine, that is how I felt about David Lee. He was gone before he actually left, I just didn't want to bring it up. He had different plans, unspoken though understood, and he was going to see them through with or without me. And even if this was supposed to make the team better all along, even with talking heads deciding long ago that the Knicks would get Chris Bosh, or Amare Stoudemire, or Carlos Boozer, I still don't feel great about it.
It turns out they did get one of those names. Turns out it doesn't really help me cope.
Revisiting history may not even be necessary because so little of it was actually memorable. There were no wins, or at least that's what it feels like. There were no playoff appearances. There were no moments of brilliance that made it clear the franchise's future depended on keeping him around. But there were five years that showed he was a player to root for on a team with so little to love.
Lee overcame the negativity of New York media. He proved he deserved playing time even when a certain coach didn't want to give him any. He dealt with a lack of structure for years, with dancing teammates, with possession killers. With Stephon Marbury. He answered questions about the franchise's future even when reporters tried to push him out the door. Daily. Frustrated with contract negotiations, he didn't quit, he made the All-Star team instead. Pardon the buzz words, but he remained professional and hard working when everyone around him thought me-first. Downright dysfunction didn't change him. He was asked to max out his minutes while playing out of position the last two years. It may shorten his career in the end. And it wasn't just a matter of "That's his job." No. That's David Lee. Class.
So, as both sides move on, a decade from now I probably won't remember his tip-in against the Bobcats. I won't remember his historic triple double against the Warriors. I definitely won't remember meaningless plays like this. Instead, I'll remember stories of him playing on a Wednesday night, flying out on Thursday morning for his grandfather's funeral, and flying back for the next game on Friday. On his own dime. I'll remember this tweet, a f'ing tweet.
And I'll remember "2010" not for missing out on a player like LeBron James, but for losing a person like David Lee.
Share what you'll remember here.