David Lee was a two-time All-Star during his 12-year NBA career.
The 34-year-old power forward played for the New York Knicks, Golden State Warriors, Boston Celtics, Dallas Mavericks and San Antonio Spurs, but his most memorable moment likely came when he won his first and only title with the Warriors in 2015.
In his prime, Lee was one of the most productive power forwards in the game. During the 2009-2010 season, his last in New York, Lee averaged 20.2 points and 11.7 rebounds in 37.3 minutes per game.
With the Warriors in 2011-2012, he put up 20.1 points and 9.6 boards per contest and remained a valuable player and leader for the team throughout his time there, culminating with their title.
In 829 career games, Lee averaged 13.5 points and 8.8 boards in 29.3 minutes per contest.
In recent seasons, however, Lee’s productivity took a major hit and he was relegated to play reserve minutes. Last season, he played 18.7 minutes per game for the San Antonio Spurs and averaged 7.3 points and 5.6 rebounds over 79 games.
After the Spurs passed on re-signing Lee and he didn’t receive interest elsewhere in this past offseason, it became more and more realistic that he might have played his last NBA game.
On Sunday, he confirmed that he is indeed retiring with a post on Instagram.
Women’s tennis star Caroline Wozniaki, Lee’s fiance, planned a surprise retirement party for him. Lee seemed to be very appreciative after being surrounded by family and friends.
Per Basketball Reference, Lee made approximately $94.8 million during his NBA career.
Looking back on his career, it seems as though Lee will hold his memories in Golden State closest to his heart.
“We were a 23-win team in Golden State, and Stephen Curry and I were the only ones from that team who would be a part of the championship,” Lee told Lorne Chan of Spurs.com in an interview last year. “To go through a five-year transition of changing the culture and from one of the worst teams in the league to the best in the world, it was really amazing to be a part of that.”
His fondest memory at that time spoke volumes of the type of teammate that he was.
“I’ve done some pretty cool individual things in my career, but my greatest memories come from times of sacrifice,” Lee said. “It comes from a time I dealt with a bad injury, a torn hamstring, and came back with a different role than when I started. There were times I was frustrated. The old me might have complained. Ultimately, I got my chance in the NBA Finals, and got to help my team win an NBA Championship.”
He was, of course, referring to his triumphant final season in Golden State, in which he assumed a lesser role for the good of the team.
Although it appeared to be slim, there was still a chance that an NBA team could have come calling for Lee midway through this season. But, it appears as though he’s content with his post-basketball life and is ready to move forward after a very successful career.