Sunday, May 5, 2013

Just Show Up: The Power of Presence Part II...David Lee Style

I wasn't as upset about the 97-95 loss to Denver in Game 1 in the opening contest of the playoff series as I was about the loss of All-Star forward David Lee to an season ending injury.  "D-Lee" who led the league in double-doubles and my personal poll of "favorite Golden State Warrior," tore his right help flexor.  
This was horrible news for the team and for me personally as I had a ticket to Game 6.   I first thought a Game 6 wouldn't happen (in a best of 7 series, a team only needs to win 4 games) until I started to worry that if it did, the donation I made to StubHub.com might serve as one for an elimination game--the elimination of the Warriors from the post-season.  As we now know however, nothing could to be further from the truth.  
Waiting in the (security) line of Oracle Arena, I couldn't help but bask in the glory of the many fans discussing David Lee. It all started when the 6-year old boy in back of me looked up at the mural of Golden State Warriors in action.  He named every one of them but wanted to first talk about the 6'9" 240 lb power forward.  I knew Lee was that tall, but appreciated learning what he weighs from this first grader. Other fans launched extended commentary about Lee's role on the team.  I was surprised by the amount of air time he was getting; the W's made it to Game 6: the elimination game for the Nuggets  without him. And then my friend inside the arena sent me a text message with information these folks already knew--Lee was warming up!  I couldn't believe what I just read.   D-Lee had been sitting court side and wearing a suit the last four games.  Could this be true?  I couldn't wait to find out.

As written by SportingNewsNBA

With 6:05 remaining in the first quarter, Lee took off his uniform and began to check in at the scorer's table. As fans started to roar to its feet, George Karl quickly called timeout and quieted the crowd.  
Lee didn't come in following the timeout, then went back to the scorer's table once played resumed. He finally entered the game with 2:23 to play, getting a standing ovation from fans as he jogged to center court and pointed to the sky with both hands.

I saw his simple gesture of thanks to God for the opportunity to play.  If you weren't watching you would have missed it and I'm glad I didn't.  It stayed with me because it was real--an authentic gesture of praise.  He raised his soul and the energy of "Roarcle" higher.   When you get a glimpse of something like that, you can't help but feel joy.  D-Lee showed up.
Lee had one rebound (!) and missed his only shot in 87 seconds of play in the first quarter. As much as fans delighted in his participation, it was painfully obvious he was running with one healthy leg.  Even with his clearance to play, it's fair to raise the question "What difference did his presence make?"  

Lee answered this question with his remarks.  
"It was something that I wanted to do for my team, to be a leader, to give us an extra boost," Lee said. "But with an extra four or five days (to rest before facing the Spurs), it's already come this far so stranger things have happened. I can guarantee you one thing. If there's any chance to play, I'll be the first guy to play and that was evidenced by what I did tonight. But I'm just excited about this series. I think we've got a chance."
He too recognizes that showing up makes a difference--be it as an extra boost, contributing a single rebound, or expressing a moment of gratitude.  Clearly the Warriors got this far because of David Lee; the power of his presence cannot be underestimated on and off the court. He gave his coach, Mark Jackson a hug as the two spoke while the lights were dimmed during player introductions.  Lee led the pep talk in the huddle after the starters were announced.  He is my favorite player to watch even when he is not playing and sitting on the bench AND that's because he's NOT sitting.  He's hopped up, reacting to every play, every foul, throwing a towel, high-five-ing every teammate in sight.  I'm just glad I had the opportunity to show up for all that happened during Game 6, a win that Warriors fans won't forget for a long time.

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