The P&T Top Ten is full of grizzled veterans and legends of the Garden hardwood. There wouldn't seem to be a place on the list for a player who was barely drafted in the first round, has only played two professional seasons, and doesn't even start regularly. But we all know the truth about David Lee. We know that the Knicks, no matter how much we love them, are a humiliating team. Even the best players have some trait for the media to bash upon. Marbury is too egotistical. Curry is too soft. Randolph is an alleged sex offender. Jeffries runs an illegal starfish racing racket out of his basement. We love them for who they are, but the public just won't give our Knicks a fair shake.
And then there's David Lee. In just two years, Dave has become a fan favorite and a media darling- a nonpareil for Knicks basketball. It is this flawlessness that makes Lee so vital to the team. His Knickdom gives us legitimacy and proves to the world that Isiah has some shred of sanity and restraint in his managerial mind.
With that, I will give you the untold history of this pillar of Knick basketball. I have painstakingly synthesized myth, hearsay, and the lore of Wikipedia to give you this: The Legend of David Lee.
Chapter 1: Split, Croatia- New Year's Eve, 1983
On a raw, stormy night, Davidily Leekov is born to Baldo and Anastija Leekov, two champion arm wrestlers. Right out of the womb, young Davidily is over 4 feet tall and has a 30 inch standing vertical. He cannot be breast-fed, for his prematurely developed teeth and vicious thirst for milk make nursing a painful endeavor for his mother. Davidily's parents know that their son, who at only a couple of months old but has already hit 6 feet, must be hidden from the Croatian government, which is a posse of oppressive Monstars hell-bent on making their country an international basketball power.
The Prime Minister of Croatia, at left
Chapter 2: April, 1983
Sensing the fear within his own home, the 3 month-old Davidily takes matters into his own abnormally adult hands. He fashions a kite out of the bones and carcass of a walrus and bids farewell to his sorrowful but understanding parents. During his week-long journey by air over the Atlantic Ocean, Davidily learns English through conversations with carrier pigeons and migratory gulls. Upon landing in St. Louis, Missouri on April 13, 1983, the child hand-writes his own birth certificate, wisely anglicizing his name to evade Croatian spies. David Lee is born.
Chapter 3: St. Louis- the 90's
David, now an adolescent, lives alone in an underground tunnel system below the St. Louis Arch. He spends his days studying Renaissance art, poetry, and the gentleman's game of basketball. On weekends, he roams the farmland of Missouri, strangling and eating steer for his own sustenance. Once he is of age, David enrolls himself in Chaminade Preparatory School. His classmates are amazed by his superior intelligence, skill on the basketball court, and unparalleled charisma. Now 6'8'' and the star of his team, David is famous for his play around the basket, which is a barrage of rebounds and dunks. On one particularly violent jam, he shatters his left arm (said David at the time, "Forget my arm. You should see the rim!") and is forced to wear a cast for several weeks. During that time, he develops his skills with his non-dominant right hand, becoming virtually ambidextrous in shooting, passing, and lady-pleasing. Once the arm heals, Lee goes onto win All-American honors and the 2001 High School Slam Dunk Contest (the real winner of the contest was James White, but judges were so intimidated by the bloodthirsty Lee that they cut their losses and gave him the crown).
Lee in the dawn of his lady-pleasing years (Photo: Hulan Pickett)
Chapter 4: Gainesville, Florida
David chooses the University of Florida for his undergraduate studies because he feels its mascot, the alligator, is representative of his merciless style of play. Lee's time at Florida is productive, but low-key. He takes underclassman teammate Joakim Noah under his wing and tries to teach the young forward the ways of ruling the paint. Noah is a willing apprentice, but corrupts the style of play that Lee taught him into a garish parade of girliness and shame. David considers this to be his only failure.
Lee as an alligator (AP Photo)
Chapter 5: The First Season
David is selected by the New York Knicks with the 30th pick in the 2005 NBA Draft. He spends his first season thirsting for more playing time under the oppressive coaching reign of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. Lee averages 5 points and 5 boards despite the shackles placed upon him. Somewhere along the way, he mentors Channing Frye in the ways of charm and lady-pleasing.
The dark ages
Chapter 6: The second season
Newly instated coach Isiah Thomas liberates David from his languishing on the bench. He plays 30 minutes a game and quietly averages a double-double. An avid rebounder and dunker, David captures the hearts of New Yorkers. A particularly momentous occasion occurs on December 20, 2006. In a tied double overtime game, with 1 tenth of a second left on the clock, Coach Thomas draws up a play for Jamal Crawford to attempt a shot instead of passing inbounds. David, possessing an encyclopedic knowledge of the NBA rulebook, tries desperately to explain that this is illegal but Isiah will not listen, so Lee decides to take matters into his own hands. He intercepts Crawford's illegal shot in mid-air and gracefully tips it into the basket with one hand, winning the game. A week after a perfect MVP performance in the Rookie-Sophomore showcase, Lee's season comes to an end. The Croatian Monstar government, just receiving news of his emergence as a low post force, begrudgingly sends embedded mercenary Andrew Bogut to sabotage the Knick's career. On February 23, Bogut employs the notorious Croatian method of undercutting to try and assassinate Lee. David, however, is a finely-tuned machine, and merely sprains his ankle. Lee's season is over, but he has improbably escaped with his life.
Croatia's finest assassin.
Chapter 6: The Legend Continues
Today, Lee's ankle is still healing from the Bogut assassination attempt. David is keeping himself happy by practicing his jumpshot, attending Knicks Summer League games, and entertaining a bevy of young women. As he has proven before, injury serves only to benefit Lee's game, and the legend will continue in future seasons as a Knick. Andrew Bogut better watch his ass.
There you have it: the continuing legend of David Lee. From brutish Croatian infant to savvy rebounder and Casanova, Lee's rise has been epic and marvelous. This is why we hope he remains in New York forever, and this is why he makes our P&T Top Ten.
SML is up next with his post on Latrell Sprewell.