Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 22, 2016 - Immediately after David Lee captained the United States’ men’s Volleyball team to a bronze medal at the Rio 2016 Olympics, the three-time “Summer” Games participant was asked about his future in the sport where he has played in over 280 international matches.
“The plan is no,” answered Lee to the question in the media conference following the United States’ come-from-behind bronze medal win over Russia 3-2 (23-25, 21-25, 25-19, 25-19, 15-13) in 117 minutes about competing for the United States in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. “Probably not.”
American David Lee at post-match media conference
The 34-year southern California native then added that he “would like to continue, that is the only thing I haven't got in my career, a world championships medal. We've done world cup, we've done a few world leagues, Olympic Games. And that's the one still left on the table. If he (Coach John Speraw) wants me I'll be available, but that's to be determined."
Lee and his teammates started the Rio 2016 Olympic Games with losses to both Canada and Italy in pool play, but the Americans rebounded to finish group action with victories over world No. 1 Brazil, France and Mexico. Lee’s “legions” defeated Poland in the quarterfinals before a disappointing setback to Italy in the semi-finals.
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When asked about the turning the match around with the Russians and the importance of Reid Priddy to the American effort, Lee said "what an amazing match. It kind of sums up our entire tournament. We've been down in pool play 0-2 (losses to Canada and Italy), then we won the next three to stay alive. And today we did the exact same thing against a very good Russian team. I felt we started off a bit slow and didn't pass really well, but we made some changes especially with the addition of Reid. I think that was one of the main reasons why we won this match."
Lee, who has played professionally in Greece, Russia, Italy, France, Puerto Rico, Portugal and Indonesia, also remarked about the team’s comeback against Russia as he “"I thought we were out, honestly. We were down 0-2, a lot of our guys weren't really looking that fired up to play. It's an early morning, it's tough to get going. But a few good plays here and there and that's all we needed."
A member of the United States national team since 2005, Lee said immediately after the match to NBC that "Reid Priddy was on fire. I dedicate this match to him. He's one of the reasons we got this medal. He should be incredibly proud of the way he finished his career indoors."
In the post-match press conference, Lee was against asked about the contribution in the Russian match about Priddy, his gold medal teammate from the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. "To be at that age (38) as well,” started Lee, “and stay warm. Cool down and warm up again, it's not easy. Reid is so dedicated and he works so hard to say in shape and fit. He just has that personality that every day that's what he needs to do, to be prepared. To come off the bench, he knows that's his role, so he has to be that guy."
American Reid Priddy
Playing in his fourth Olympics for the United States, the 38-year-old Priddy was used sparingly in Rio prior to the Russian match as he helped ignite the American by starting out 15-of-20 hitting and finishing with 18 points.
"Reid and David contribute so much and when you're coaching in this level and these guys have played for so long, it's really high-level conversation," said Speraw as the Americans defeated the reigning gold medalists from the 2012 London Games for the bronze medal in Rio.
American coach John Sperwa
On NBCOlympics.com, it was written that “two months ago, Priddy became the improbable pick” for American 12-man roster for Rio “following the injury to his right knee two years ago in Bulgaria. He landed awkwardly after a high-flying hit, then lay face to the floor grimacing, his taped hand gripping his right knee. Doctors used tendon from his left knee to repair the torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right.”
In the end, it was Lee and Priddy leading the United States’ men’s volleyball team to its fifth Olympic medal after placing fifth in the London 2012 Games where Russia, Brazil and Italy finished 1-2-3. The Americans also captured an Olympic bronze medal in 1992 to go with “Summer” Games” championship in 1984 and 1988, and the podium-topping performance at the Beijing 2008 competition.