Golden State Warriors forward David Lee shocked his teammates when he began warming up in preparation for Thursday night’s Game 6 against the Denver Nuggets, and that’s exactly what head coach Mark Jackson was looking to do when he inserted the big man into the lineup, if only for under two minutes of action.
“Obviously a part of [playing Lee] was for inspiration,” said Warriors head coach Mark Jackson (via NBA.com). It got the crowd going. Unfortunately, there was a time out right away and I had to sit him back down, but I wanted to capture that moment.”
Lee finished with 0 points on 0-1 shooting and got on the stat sheet by grabbing a contested defensive rebound. Despite his modest numbers, he still managed to draw a large standing ovation and watch the game from the sidelines, in a uniform, not in street clothes. That in itself meant something to everyone, including Warriors head coach Mark Jackson.
“”I guess the New York City in me, the Willis Reed impact as a kid played a role,” Jackson explained. “Because not only did I put him in I ran a play for him.”
The step-back jump shot missed, but the one glorious rebound was enough to set Oracle Arena off as Lee out-hustled two more able-bodied opponents to come down with the ball in traffic. There were no issues with his health, and though he played just over one minute, he suffered no setbacks. Jackson was never concerned.
“I had no concerns about David because I watched him work out yesterday,” Jackson added. The main thing I wanted to see how his body responded this morning.”
The Warriors played relatively flat until they opened things up in a 33-20 third quarter. The whole time, there was Lee, on the bench in the blue and gold with a jersey on and cheering on his teammates along with 19,596 other crazed fans. It was clear his teammates played for him and drew a little extra from his gutsy performance.
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