David Lee has been down with video games ever since he first started executing opponents as Cyrax in "Mortal Kombat 3."
So it's no surprise that, on the week of the biggest video game release of the year, Lee is holed up in his home, blasting his friends and Warrior teammates in online shootouts via "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3."
"I got into the franchise back when the original 'Modern Warfare' came out," Lee explains over the phone, putting the controller down in order to talk about his love for everything "COD." "When I was on the Knicks, Nate Robinson was on the team at the time, and he his huge into 'Call of Duty.' He has his own crew, his clan, and they are all of his friends from back in Seattle, but these guys are the best. They play about 15 hours a day, and they are simply unbelievable. So I learned from the best.
"To me, playing video games is a way for me to put my feet up and relax during the season. After playing basketball all day, the last thing I want to do is come home and play a sports game. This is a different kind of game to play, and the competitiveness of it is off the charts. The online competitiveness of it is what really draws people in. It's great."
The only problem Lee is having these days, is the fact the Warriors are split down the middle in terms of preferred system. "Steph Curry and half the team like to play of PlayStation 3, but I play with some other teammates on Xbox 360," says Lee. "We need to get this worked out so we can all get on the same system. Last season, a couple of the guys wanted to jump in and play with me, but after a few days they quit because they couldn't keep up. Like I said, I've been playing a long time. This isn't recreation for me. When I play with Nate, we never lost once. It wasn't about me, but his boys are just that good. I remember one game, Nate's friend had 115 kills and one death. I never even thought that was possible. Nate's the same way. He's very, very good."
Lee and Robinson's dedication to "Modern Warfare" even found its way onto the court as Nate ended up giving some of his fans a "Call of Duty" salute before shooting free throws. "Nate's Gamertag had his name in it at the time, and people didn't believe it was really him," says Lee, "so he told them, 'Watch the game tonight, I'll give you a signal.' It's using Xbox Live as another way to connect to fans. I have 20-30 friends on Xbox Live that are just that, fans who I used to play against all the time, and then later on, I'd see them out at our games, so it was a lot of fun."
Even more fun for Lee, is the new movie theater he had installed in his St. Louis home, increasing the intensity of every online battle.
Says Lee: "Now I have this surround sound setup in my movie theater with my Xbox hooked up to this 120-inch screen. It's pretty crazy to play it on that. It's a completely different experience.
"It's almost too intense. The sound is so loud and the screen is so big that after a while, you need to take a 15-minute break. I actually have to go for a walk outside sometimes just to regain my senses."
But with the launch of "Modern Warfare 3," those breaks are few and far between.
"When I first started playing, I wanted to be a sniper, but it drove me crazy," adds Lee. "To me, I want to be right there in the action. I'm the type of guy who is going to get a lot of kills, but I'll get a lot of deaths. That's just the way I play. I want to be in the middle of everything, throwing grenades and setting claymores. I try to be strategic, but at the same time, I'm not shying away from the action.
"It's kind of like my NBA game. I'm looking for that contact and always trying to be in the middle of the play."