The Great Lee-pression.

Knickerbocker fans have been forced to come to a realization this past few days… No more Lee-bounds, No more doub-Lee doub-Lee’s. No more euph-Lee-nisms. To the shock of many, David Lee, a fan favorite and recent NBA All-Star, was traded to the Golden State Warriors on July 9th, 2010. Sure, we got Stoudemire but lost we lost the one man who occasionally, throughout our last 5 losing seasons, made us feel like a winner.

I wasn’t always a David Lee fan. I was more concerned with the homecoming Stephon Marbury, the fiery offense of Nate Robinson and the sweet post game of Eddy Curry. It took time for me to fully admire Lee’s talent. When he was drafted 30th by the Knicks in 2005 NBA Draft, along with Channing Frye, I said to myself: “Who are these guys?”

By the second year of Lee’s career I was very sure of who he was; a slam dunking rebound machine who possessed tenacity and heart.

Humble Lee-ginning (Sort of)…

Although Lee was relatively unknown amongst most Knicks fans on draft day, he had actually earned quite a fair reputation in high school and college. He was a heralded player in high school and was a McDonald’s All American; he even won its 2001 Slam Dunk contest.

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Welcome to the Lee-ague.

Almost instantly Lee was solid contributor for the Knickerbockers. He wasn’t exactly putting up 20 points and pulling down 15 boards every night but he did prove to be a crafty inside scorer and keen rebounder. Most can recall the grueling win in triple overtime against the Phoenix Suns where Lee scored 23 points and grabbed 15 rebounds, not to mention 3 steals.

Unfortunately his averages in his rookie year weren’t very impressive but you could clearly recognized his potential. In his sophomore year he proved that potential, “at the All-Star break, Lee had averaged 11.1 points on 61.05% shooting (first in the league), an 80.0% free throw percentage, 10.8 rebounds (8th in NBA) and 1.8 assists in 30.9 minutes a game.”

He went on to be named the Most Valuable Player in the 2007 Rookie Challenge, finishing with 30 points on 14 of 14 shooting from the field and 11 rebounds; and he was also the star of what could easily be the best Knickerbocker highlight since Larry Johnson‘s infamous 4 point play:

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Despite Lee’s improvement, the Knickerbockers only seemed to be getting worse. In his third year Lee found himself playing the role of a spectacular contributor off the bench. Although many fans felt that he should be a starter, most were aware that he provided a great spark when the starting five would suddenly become comatose.

Dear-Lee Departed.

In his fourth year he became a full time starter, posting career highs. “He also became the first Knicks player with 30 points and 20 rebounds in a game since Patrick Ewing had 34 points and 25 rebounds on Feb. 23, 1997″; and if that wasn’t enough, he became only the 11th Knick ever to score 10 consecutive double-doubles.

The LeBron fire sale had already been underway and at the end of the 2009 season the Knick organization seemed reluctant to put forth the monetary effort to secure Lee for the coming years. (The same went for another fan favorite “Nasty” Nate Robinson) Instead, blinded by the allure of attaining a false king in the summer of 2010, they tossed Lee a measly one year contract.

It was the 2009-2010 season and the clock was ticking. Not only was the Knick organization freeing up cap space for the coveted soon-to-be free agent LeBron James, they were still undergoing the process of banishing anything that still carried the scent of Isiah Thomas. (Curry, you’re next!)

 After the 2010 All-Star break, Nate was gone and the organization seemed less concerned with winning and more concerned with the star studded free agency of the coming summer.

Few cared that Lee’s 15 foot jumper was coming along nicely. No one bothered to cherish his almost nightly double-doubles. There was no pat on the back for being the first Knick to play in an All-Star game since Latrell Sprewell.

Last season was just another year of under appreciation; and I’m not talking about the fans, we recognized all of these accomplishments. I’m referring to the Knicks organization. We all knew they would let Lee slip through their fingers. We all saw it coming but we wanted to believe that the Knicks organization would be smart this time. We thought they would’ve recognized the unstoppable front court they would’ve had with Lee and Stoudemire. We wanted them to finally show some trait of loyalty but it never came.

Lee is now a Golden State Warrior and Knickerbocker fans are now left with questions. One of them being:

How Could You Ever Let Go of David Lee?

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