OAKLAND – Entering Friday night when he would have his personal ring ceremony prior to the game against the Golden State Warriors, David Lee didn’t know what the over-and-under was on whether or not he was going to shed any tears.
In the end, after a 90-second video tribute -- followed by Lee receiving his championship ring from Warriors guard Stephen Curry -- the Dallas Mavericks’ center/forward had a chance to reflect.
"I did OK,’’ Lee said. "I was more excited than anything else.
"It was really something that I was prepared for and something I’ve been excited about for awhile. I was just really honored and, like I said, really excited to get out there tonight and have my friends and family here to support me.’’
Lee helped the Warriors win last year’s NBA title, but was subsequently traded to the Boston Celtics last July 27. However, since the Celtics hadn’t played their lone game in Oakland prior to waiving the 12-year veteran on Feb. 19, Lee had to wait until Friday before he could receive his coveted ring.
Meanwhile, Warriors fans gave Lee a loud and lengthy and thunderous ovation when he was announced as a starter at power forward. And they continued that adulation during the video tribute and his personal ring ceremony.
"(Warriors owner) Joe Lacob and everybody on down that put this on are unbelievable,’’ Lee said. "It made me really feel at home, and I thought it was a great game between two teams, and they made a few more plays at the end.’’
The Mavs, who lost to the Warriors, 128-120, at ORACLE Arena, were impressed with the class the Warriors showed in their treatment of Lee.
"That’s how it’s supposed to be when you come back to the organization that you played for,’’ guard Raymond Felton said. "You had a lot of success here, won a championship here with these guys, they gave him a ring, and they gave him a very loud standing ovation – that’s first class.
"This is a first class organization, a first class team, first class city, first class fans, so it was great. I was happy to see that for him.’’
J. J. Barea could relate to lee having to wait so long to receive his championship ring. Something similar happened to Barea after he helped the Mavs capture the 2011 NBA title.
After that season, Barea was a free agent and ended up playing for the Minnesota Timberwolves when he couldn’t come to terms with the Mavs on a new contract. But since the NBA locked out its players during a contract stalemate with the union, the Mavs didn’t receive their championship rings until the regular season opener on Dec. 25.
However, Barea didn’t get his ring until Minnesota played in Dallas on Jan. 25.
"I was in that same situation when I went back to Dallas with Minnesota, and I think that was awesome for him,’’ Barea said of Lee. "He deserves everything he got and that’s awesome the way they did it here for him.’’
As far as the game goes, Lee put on a solid show, finishing with 12 points, nine rebounds and six assists. It was truly a night he’ll probably never forget.
"I want to give the Warriors a lot of credit – organization – for being so first class in putting on the tribute that they did,’’ Lee said. "That’s a reason why we won a championship last year and that’s because the Warriors are so first class.’’
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