Less than two weeks after the Golden State Warriors thought they lost star forward David Lee for the rest of the season due to a hip injury, he returned to the floor on Thursday night. It was a short appearance, but the fact he played at all was a surprise.
He was on the floor for just over a minute in the series-clinching victory over the Denver Nuggets. While he missed his only shot and grabbed just one rebound, he said the reason behind playing was to help provide some motivation for his teammates, reports Sam Amick of USA Today.
It was something that I wanted to do for my team, to be a leader, to give us an extra boost. 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.
When questioned if it was possible he would play a major role against the San Antonio Spurs, he replied there was no chance. But the Warriors will be glad if they get any production from the double-double machine after thinking he'd be out until next season.
"Significant part like playing 30 minutes?" he asked. "Zero (chance)."
Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle passed along a comment from Golden State head coach Mark Jackson, who confirmed it's unclear what type of role Lee might play moving forward.
Rusty Simmons @Rusty_SFChron
GSW coach Mark Jackson on David Lee: "I don't know what his role will be going forward. ... He put himself in position to inspire his team."2013-5-3 06:13:01
Lee took to Twitter to congratulate his teammates on the crucial win, which gives him some more time to evaluate his condition before the Spurs series gets under way.
David Lee @Dlee042
Great series win by our squad! Huge game by @StephenCurry30 @andrewbogut and @Money23Green So blessed to be a part of this team! #GSW2013-5-3 07:12:42
The talented power forward scored 10 points and grabbed 14 rebounds in Game 1 before getting injured. He led the league in double-doubles during the regular season with 56 in 79 games, which illustrates his importance to the squad.
While he doesn't believe he'll be able to handle a full workload against the Spurs, even limited minutes to help offset the resurgent play of Tim Duncan would help Golden State. That said, the team doesn't want to push him too far, either.
He provided a much-needed boost of energy to help the young Warriors get over the elimination-game hump.
Any contributions from this point forward should be welcome, but not expected.