OAKLAND — David Lee has worked for eight seasons to be in the NBA playoffs. The last time he even attended a postseason game was between the Bulls and Wizards in Chicago before the 2005 draft.
“It’s been a long time to wait,” said Lee, who spent his first five seasons with the New York Knicks. “I’m having to do more to calm myself down than to get hyped to be ready for it.”
A lot of Lee’s teammates can relate.
Andrew Bogut is the only Golden State Warriors starter who has ever been to the playoffs. Only five players have been to the postseason. Heck, only five players on the current roster were even in the NBA the last time the franchise made the playoffs in 2007.
When the sixth-seeded Warriors begin their first-round series today at third-seeded Denver, it will be uncharted territory for most involved, including second-year coach Mark Jackson. For the first time, the former NBA point guard will be in a suit on the bench instead of a jersey on the court when the ball is thrown up for the first time.
Jackson was adamant after the team’s light practice Thursday that playoff experience matters little. He also recalled when the Boston Celtics — led by Larry Bird, Robert Parish, Kevin McHale and Dennis Johnson — knocked his Knicks out in the first round his rookie year in 1987-88 in four games.
“Experience didn’t send us home,” Jackson said. “The Boston Celtics, with four Hall of Famers, sent us home.”
Denver’s George Karl has Jackson well outnumbered on the NBA sidelines. Karl will be coaching his 22nd squad in the playoffs.
Jackson, who had never coached at any level when the Warriors hired him two years ago, deflected the attention to his players when pressed about how his abilities will be tested.
“Every series I’ve ever been a part of, the best team has won,” he said. “Phil Jackson didn’t, to me, outcoach Larry Bird. He won. He did an incredible job. (The Lakers) had the two baddest boys on the floor in Shaq and Kobe.”