Remembering David Lee’s Nasty Career-Threatening Elbow Injury Caused By Wilson Chandler’s Tooth

Players in this post:
James White Wilson Chandler David Lee

Steph Curry’s elbow knot in GM2 was nastier than outscoring the Thunder 15-2 in just 2 minutes but if you want to talk about the Warriors and nasty elbows, we have to flashback to 2010 when David Lee knocked a tooth out of Wilson Chandler’s mouth with his elbow. At the time, it seemed like Chandler got the worst of it but it turned out the collision almost ended Lee’s career.

A piece of Chandler’s tooth got stuck in Lee’s arm, causing his elbow to swell to the size of a softball and an infection which required two surgeries. Yes, bite injuries are that serious. The mouth is the nastiest place on a human. And no, Wilson Chandler did not have rabies.

Here’s Lee, Via an interview with KNBR in San Francisco, talking about the severity of the infection.

On his injury:
“This injury went from something that I thought was going to be a two-day situation to all of a sudden they were saying ‘we might have to cut your triceps muscle and you’re never going to play again,’ to ‘you’re fine.’ It was a very scary situation, and I learned how serious infection can be. Looking back on it, I think the only way we could have prevented was by not going back in the game in New York and just sitting out. And at that point, there was nothing that indicated it was going to be very serious, so that wasn’t really an option.”

On potentially having to have his triceps muscle cut out of his arm:
“It got to the point where they said if we can’t find the right antibiotics to counter the bacteria that you’re going to have to start getting things cut out of your arm, and you may never have the same arm to play basketball again. My left arm was my shooting arm. And really, I was only out for two and a half weeks, so all of this happened in that short of a time period, so it happened quick. I was just in disbelief half the time. I’m just glad the worst didn’t occur and I’m back able to help the team now.”


Lee did recover and in 2013 he became the first Warrior to make the All-Star team since Latrell Sprewell did way back in 1997. Then during an injury-plagued 2014/15 season, Lee played a major role in helping the Warriors win the NBA championship against the Cavs.

He’s currently an (injured) member of the Dallas Mavs.


For my favorite David Lee story, we have to flashback all the way back to 2001 when Lee BEAT James White at the 2001 McDonalds High School dunk contest.