David Lee, The NBA's Most Underrated Player

Joshua ValleyContributor IDecember 25, 2009

NEW YORK - DECEMBER 18:  David Lee #42 of the New York Knicks dunks the ball against the Los Angeles Clippers at Madison Square Garden on December 18, 2009 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2009 NBAE  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images

The NBA has always had its stars. It's always had players that astonish the crowds with spectacular play. The faces of the league. The ones that grab shoe deals, the ones that do ads for today's hottest retail items. The ones on the covers of magazines and video games. The household names that everyone knows.

The NBA has other stars that don't quite get the respect or exposure that they deserve. The guys who don't showboat. The guys who, day in and day out, give everything they have. The guys who play the game the way it should be.

One of these unsung players is Knicks center, David Lee. On a franchise struggling to find its way out of the dark tunnel Isiah Thomas led them into, Lee has thrived and been a consistent spark for the Knicks. He is a reliable source for double-doubles and a rebounding machine.

The Knicks have rotated a number of players demanding high dollars for low production. Marbury, Curry, Randolph and Richardson are some of the names associated with that reputation. A fool and his money...

Then there are the guys who have egos that demand that they try to play above their abilities. Making bad shots, crying over every call against them, and committing careless turnovers while trying to be pretty.

David Lee is a role model to up and coming players as he lets his body of work do the talking. The Knicks should be grateful that even when all was bleak, Lee has played professionally and unselfishly for a team going nowhere.

That could change in 2010 as free agency promises to boast names like Wade and James. The Knicks threw out a lot of trash and cleaned house to attract some of these names to Gotham. Will Lebron be the "King of New York?" Will Wade be a Knick? Will we see them both in NY?

Rumor has it that the two are discussing career destinations that could land them as teammates. Either or both would fit in D'Antoni's run-n-gun offense. They both would provide major upgrades in defense. One has a ring and the other is destined to win one.

As awesome an idea that it is, I'm concerned. If the Knicks can entice either or both, would it be at the cost of the brilliant David Lee?

That would be a shame. The Knicks had a chance to sign him to a deal but didn't want him on a long term contract. I can understand why they are hesitant to make a move as other contracts have shown little reward but, Lee was playing like a star before landing a long term deal.

After not having his way, he didn't go Marbury on us and sit on his butt courtside, or cry like a baby on the Internet. He continues to show why he deserved that multi-year deal.

Lee is exactly what the Knicks need. He plays hard and genuinely appears to like being a Knickerbocker. He puts himself in harm's way to pull down boards, and block or alter shots. Yeah, that's his job. It was Curry's too...

David Lee is one of the New York Knicks' fan favorites. He has quietly emerged as a star and beast in the East. It would be a shame to see him let go. The Knicks have gambled away millions on what ifs, but are in danger of losing legitimate talent. Even if the Knicks bring Wade or James to New York, they can't win alone. Lee is a perfect piece to have in New York's 2010 lineup.