MILWAUKEE – For David Lee, being voted by the coaches onto the Western Conference All-Star team brought gratification. He has averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds in past seasons, but doing it on a surprise playoff threat has given him assurance about his standing among the NBA’s top forwards.

Most of all, Lee understands the importance of his accomplishment for the Golden State Warriors: He became the organization’s first All-Star in 16 years.

“It’s huge because this team hasn’t had an All-Star since ‘97 and one of the main reasons is that we’re such improved from last year,” Lee told RealGM on Saturday night. “We’re an improved team record-wise, a deep team. So it’s great to be one of the leaders of this team and be recognized for it.”

Lee still remembers the people who used to describe him as a player who got his numbers on mediocre teams. And he knows that the losing he endured with the New York Knicks and in the past two seasons with the Warriors fed into that reputation. In the end, Lee believes he’s been benefited by having a chip on his shoulder from the perception that he couldn’t be a leader on a contender.

“Absolutely, and a lot of it is being in different situations,” Lee said. “When I was in New York, they were saving cap space for LeBron [James] so we were constantly getting rid of players. And then we were in a rebuilding stage when I got here to Golden State. But we finally have a team that’s deep and that has a lot of players that can help us win games.”

With averages of 19.5 points, 10.8 rebounds and 3.6 assists, Lee has established himself among the top power forwards in the league. Yet this season has served as validation for him, and he’s excited to potentially head to the first postseason of his career.

“We have a very balanced attack,” Lee said. “I finally got myself in a good situation here and want to make the most of it.”