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Catching Up With David Lee
By Brian Witt
David Lee played five seasons in Golden State. Last weekend, he returned to Oracle Arena for the first time since his retirement.
Just two weeks ago, the Warriors became the first team in NBA history with four All-Stars in consecutive seasons. The Dubs have had multiple All-Stars in each of the last four seasons now, but it wasn't that long ago that Golden State was left out of the annual All-Star Game year after year. After Latrell Sprewell made the team in 1997, the Warriors went without an All-Star for the next 16 years. The guy that broke the star-less streak? That would be David Lee, who made his first return to Oracle Arena as a retired player last weekend to take in Golden State's game against Oklahoma City.
In addition to being honored mid-game with a raucous standing ovation from the Oracle crowd, Lee met with the media prior to the game to discuss a variety of topics, including life as a retired player, his favorite memories of being a Warrior and his upcoming wedding with tennis star Caroline Wozniacki. Check out some of his responses below:
On wedding planning:
"Most important question, right? Going really well. Started a new job and planning that, so those are my two main things going on right now. And being a tennis fan, that's also on the agenda…It's one of the most nerve-wracking things I've ever been a part of, having to watch somebody and have zero control over an outcome, other than just being able to cheer somebody on. It's a pretty helpless feeling."
On the path of the franchise, and his role in it:
"It's incredible, and I just talked to coach Kerr about it a little bit. It's been amazing - you know, you keep seeing this roll continue – and to realize it's been a few years now since it started. So it's not like this is a new thing anymore. It's a thing that's been around for a few years and is continuing to get better."
"My biggest thing is I'm just happy to be a small part of it…Just the fact that I was able to win a championship and be a part of something so special, and it's continued on from there. And they've done it with an incredible group of people, with great character and great team chemistry, and obviously great ownership and coaching. So it's really cool to have been a part of that, and that's why I'll continue to support it whenever I'm out here."
On life as a retired player:
"I'm completely at peace with it. I'm really happy that I got to go out on my terms. I think that was something that was very important to me. I had the thought of playing another 2-3 years, and then got a great business opportunity off the court, and the offers that came through in free agency…I looked at that and I looked at what I had accomplished in the league, and thought that now would be as good a time as any. I told a story that I didn't know until I kind of watched the first game of the year. I was watching that Cleveland-Boston game and saw Gordon Hayward get hurt, and I said, ‘You know what, I think I'm good. I think I'm good sitting on the couch and observing this.' So, I'm completely at peace with it, and very, very happy to come back tonight. No awkward feelings. Just going to go support everybody and be a fan. So it's been great."
On his lasting memories with Golden State:
"Obviously the Championship…and really, just seeing this build year-by-year. And that's what so special. I'll never forget when I signed – and it's not like I was coming from a perennial winner, I was coming from a New York team that had lost a bunch of games – [a reporter] asked, like, ‘Why would you come? Explain to me again why you just signed here. I'm not really understanding it. They've been through X amount of losing seasons, and outside of the We Believe year, there's really been nothing positive to happen.' And my answer was, because I think – obviously the fan base is incredible – and I think it has some great potential. So, to see it build year after year was a really cool thing to be a part of."