According to the Basketball English to English Dictionary, a ‘Glue Guy,’ is defined as:
“A valuable player whose main contribution isn’t using up lots of possessions.’’
There is no picture of New York Knicks guard Courtney Lee next to that definition, but there should be. Heck, his nickname should be Elmer’s.
Take Lee’s contribution Wednesday night in the Knicks’ 110-96 win over the Brooklyn Nets at The Garden.
Lee finished with 13 points, three rebounds, one assist, smothering defense on Bojan Bogdanovic (2-of-9 shooting) and drew one man’s man offensive foul on the Nets’ 7-foot, 270-pound center Brook Lopez.
“The charge was big,’’ acknowledged Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek. “It takes a lot of guts to take a charge from Brook Lopez. That’s a winning play.’’
Lee knows a thing or two about guts.
He has marveled at the strength and resiliency of his single-mother, Teer Butler, who raised three boys on one salary in Indianapolis.
“One, she taught me the value of a dollar,’’ said Lee. “The value of hard work. That philosophy, you just carry that. If you’re going to work hard at something you’ve got to work hard at every aspect.
“So that applies to going to school, getting good grades and just doing everything in the house, chores and what not. It just carries over on the court.’’
Lee learned about his own inner strength in the summer of 2005 when, Danny Rumph, his college roommate, teammate and mentor at Western Kentucky, suddenly died from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, an abnormal growth of muscle fibers in the heart.
Rumph collapsed while playing in a pickup basketball game in a recreational center in his hometown of Philadelphia.
Lee has a tattoo on one arm that reads, ‘RIP Danny Rumph.’
Lee plays in a charity basketball game each year in Philly. He does charity work for the Daniel Eric Rumph II Foundation, which raises funds to heighten awareness of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and to equip recreation centers with defibrillators.
“I look at it every day,” Lee said of the tattoo.
Lee also has tattoos on his chest that honor his mother, Teer, and his late grandmother, Laverne Johnson.
The body art is a reminder that Lee has made it to the NBA because of the sacrifices and lessons learned from those he loves. The sense that being part of something is more important than oneself carries over to Lee’s glue game.
“I focus on trying to be that, doing anything and everything that it takes to win the game,’’ Lee said. “Some nights it might not be my night to score. It might be my night on the defensive end. Or it might be helping the bigs out with rebounding. Or I can make plays off the pick and roll, and make the right reads and get somebody else going.
“I just take pride in trying to everything out there that can impact the game in a positive way.’’
Like taking a charge on an opponent that outweighs Lee by some 70 pounds.
Tonight in Boston where the Knicks (3-4) play the Celtics (3-4), Lee will try to minimize Avery Bradley, who’s averaging 19.7 points on 50-percent shooting.
“Courtney’s not a guy we’re going to run a lot of plays for,’’ sad Hornacek. “He just kind of gets his stuff off kickouts. When we do swing it he’s very good. If I was playing today, I wouldn’t want to guard him. He’s very bouncy. I wouldn’t say herky-jerky, but his movement’s kind of hard to figure out.
“And he’s got the athletic ability that when he does get by, he’s got that nice mid-range jump shot. That’s a tough shot. You’ve got guys coming from behind you. He’s able to make that.
“He’s kind off a glue guy for us. You expect his three-point shooting, his defense. And those other plays that he makes.”