Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Courtney Lee Has No Fear
The OCTB is a popular cat, as you all know, and so I’m always a welcome site in the Magic locker room, especially after a win. So let me tell you about a locker room visit I made after the big win over the LeBron Crabaliers last Thursday.
In his post-game press conference, Stan Van Gundy (aka BCE – Best Coach EVER) talked about how the plan was to have Hedo Turkoglu guard LeBron (yo! BCE! What’s up with THAT!). But the offensive scheme the Cavs were running forced a switch and rookie Courtney Lee was on LeBron. Turns out, Lee wanted the assignment so much, he asked BCE if he could keep it the rest of the game! I was so impressed to hear this that I just had to get it from the rookie himself.
So after quickly recounting what BCE had said about him, I asked Lee to comment on it. To paraphrase, he said “Man, I’m just having fun out there. It’s exciting! I’m playing against all of these all-stars each game, even in practice (a nod to the THREE all-stars on his own team!) and its just fun to play against the best in the world.”
What I didn’t hear Lee say was that he was scared. He didn’t say that he wasn’t up to the challenge. He didn’t say that he was nervous in the least. Now, while I’m sure that all NBA players get nervous now and then, especially in big games, I wouldn’t begrudge a rookie a whole, uh, basket of nerves. But on this night, going up against the game’s most dynamic player for the first time, Lee not only held his own on defense (as good as you can do against the Crab-man) but took it strong on offense. The highlight for me was his hard drive to the rim with LeBron right on him. Lee took it straight to the top and finished it.
Lee is still a rookie for sure (last night in a loss to the Mavs he was only 2 for 8), but he doesn’t lack confidence, doesn’t hesitate, and he doesn’t show fear. Those three qualities by themselves are the reason the Magic have finally broken the string of wasted 1st round picks.
Credit for the photo: AP Photo by John Raoux