A very tangible example of those fears is playing out almost a year later in Golden State.
In Lee's first game back at Madison Square Garden since leaving the Knicks for the Warriors via sign-and-trade in the summer, Golden State's marquee summer acquisition and former Knicks teammate Wilson Chandler clashed elbow-to-mouth Wednesday night, dredging up images of the unintentional Nowitzki-Landry collision.
The difference: Nowitzki avoided infection and wound up missing only one game -- an unexpected victory over LeBron James' Cleveland Cavaliers -- after his right elbow caught Landry's mouth on a drive in Dallas' home loss to Houston on Dec. 19, 2009.
Lee, by contrast, was forced to undergo surgery Friday when an area around the laceration left by Chandler's teeth became infected. Lee has already missed two games and is expected to be sidelined at least a week.