In a round-up of who this year’s rookie class should be emulating over at ESPN Insider, David Thorpe has an interesting morsel about Courtney Lee that I thought was worth breaking out here.
In the article, Thorpe said Terrence Williams should look to Courtney Lee as a player to model himself after, because “He started the season poorly, but has recovered to play excellent basketball, displaying great intensity on defense even after a game has been decided. And through it all, he has never said a negative word to anyone.”
As a kicker, Thorpe quotes a Nets insider as saying, “how nice it was to see a young player ooze that much class and professionalism.”
Why is this important? Well, in the constant back-and-forth among fans this season, there’s been a considerable amount of teeth gnashing regarding why Courtney Lee has been given such a long leash compared to other players on the roster – like Williams, and another player who is sometimes referred to by his three initials. And I think Thorpe and the Nets insider explain why – because through it all, Lee has maintained professionalism and intensity on the court. Though his production has slipped a bit lately, Lee has been considerably better in the second half this season, and in my opinion, has proven that the trust was warranted. But even if his performance wasn’t improving, Lee is one of a small handful of players on the roster that hasn’t made a name for himself for all the wrong reasons off-the-court this season. I’ll be interested to see what Lee’s role on the team will be next season after the draft and free agency – he’s probably best suited for the role he played in Orlando last year. But I will never gripe about the number of chances he’s received this season, for the reasons Thorpe outlined.