An archetypal supersub entering his fourth season with the Knicks, David Lee is sprouting into a young NBA icon.
The 6-foot-9 power forward out of the University of Florida is a retro NBA player with an explosive punch to his game.
With his all-out hustle, relentless rebounding, freakish athleticism, and shallow slingshot jumper, Lee is a fundamentally sound professional containing all the tools to emerge into the face of the franchise.
In his three seasons in orange and blue, Lee has won over what’s easily the NBA’s toughest fan-base (Knicks fans have had more to boo about than cheer about for the better portion of a decade, and they are never shy about booing their home team) while playing under the hard-hitting scrutiny of the media capitol of the world.
On July 14, the first-ever David Lee basketball camp unfolded at Dobbs Ferry. The evident was created by Teaches Hoops, a basketball program run by Terry Teachout (who played at Duquesne and had brief stints with the Indiana Pacers and Cleveland Cavs) and Chris Ward, the former Hastings coach who garnered Section I/N.Y.S. Coach of the Year during his lone year at Hastings.
David Lee responded to the resident fans by giving everyone a warm welcome. Lee’s fun-loving, winning personality was easily evident.
Lee, who arrived at Dobbs Ferry High in a Black Range Rover, sauntered into the Dobbs Ferry gym and immediately registered his presence.
He certainly wasn’t shy around the campers, slapping high-fives and being all-out friendly.
“Feel free to come up to me and introduce yourself,” said Lee before the crowd of campers.
“Let me know if you need help with anything and if you have any questions you want to ask me. You know, I’m a nice guy so you don’t have to be intimidated by me or anything like that.”
Despite being fresh off a trip from Las Vegas (where the Knicks summer league is currently taking place), was active and outgoing.
When asked about his summer, he admitted everything has been “a bit hectic with all the trade rumors.”
Lee was referencing the NBA rumor mill. It was revealed that the Knicks might be sending the workhorse and fan-favorite forward elsewhere. Luckily for Knicks fans, none of this word-around-the-campfire rhetoric proved prophetic.
During Lee’s closing speech, he paid homage to the men who made the event possible.
“I didn’t just pick these guys off the street,” said Lee, referencing Ward and Teachout.
“These guys know what they’re talking about. Make sure you’re respectful to them and listen to them.”
Colin Powers, a Hastings resident and a counselor at the camp, was approached by Lee at one of the shooting stations. After a short conversation, Lee observed that Powers was sporting a pair of cut-up Jordans.
“You need to get some new kicks,” said Lee. “Tomorrow, I’m going to have a good pair for you.”
Lee, a dynamic jumping jack on a team that’s littered with guards (with the recent acquisition of Chris Duhon, the Knicks now have seven guards) Lee has given disgruntled Knicks fans something to smile about the past few seasons.
On a team that seems to flounder no matter how much money Jim Dolan shells out on high-priced and marketable, card-shop names, Lee always seems to bring something positive to the table.
Lee hopped aboard the Teaches network through Terry Teachout, who serves as his personal trainer during the off-season.
Lee is part of a scintillating 2005 draft class that includes high-octane guard Nate Robinson. In addition to a blossoming player, Lee is a walking double-double. The 6-foot-9 behemoth took home MVP of the 2007 Schick Rookie Game, pouring in 30 points while snaring 14 rebounds.
On a team front-loaded with shoot-first individualists, Lee is the light at the end of the tunnel.
Now, he’s hoping to carve a new niche coaching the Dobbs Ferry youth.
Lee is back in New York where he belongs, and here to stay.
This looks like a summer hoops marriage that won’t end anytime soon.