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LeBron James is one of the most decorated players in NBA history. He is a four-time NBA champion and four-time league MVP. But his performance in the 2007 NBA Finals with the Cleveland Cavaliers is one of his most overlooked accomplishments. There were no other superstars on the Cavs’ roster, and James had to lead the team alone.
Although sometimes he had help. James even saw his teammate’s playoff performance before it happened: Daniel Booby Gibson in Game 6 of the 2007 Eastern Conference Finals.
James and the Cavs were a young team in 2007 and faced a seasoned team, the Detroit Pistons, in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Detroit has reached the conference finals five times in a row, winning it in 2003-04. Their experience gave them a 2-0 lead in the series.
However, James was not in the lineup for the next three games.
After 32 points, nine assists and nine rebounds in Game 3 and 25 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds in Game 4, James had one of the best playoff games of his career in Game 5. He scored 48 points in the double-overtime victory and scored the Cavs’ final 25 points to give Cleveland a 3-2 lead in the series.
This game was great for so many reasons, and it proved that James lived up to all the hype that hung around him even before he arrived in the NBA.
In Game 6, however, he made sure to finally get some help.
LeBron James, from left, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Anderson Varejao of the Cleveland Cavaliers against the Detroit Pistons in the NBA playoffs, 21. April 2009. | Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Gibson was just a role player for the Cavs from 2006 to 2007. It was his first season, and he averaged just 4.6 points in 16.5 minutes. Then he played just 11.4 minutes per game in the first two rounds of the playoffs and 5 minutes and 13 seconds in the first game of the conference finals.
But after some shots in game two and three, Gibson scored 21 points in game four. He then scored 11 points in double overtime in the Game 5 win.
Before the start of Game 6, however, James had a message for him.
He must have seen me shoot, Gibson told The Athletic in 2020. He said: You need to be ready tonight. Stand by to fire. Personally, I think he saw something that should have happened that night, before it happened. He made sure I was ready for that moment in Game 6.
Gibson was really well prepared.
In Game 6, Gibson scored the most points of his career. He led the Cavs with 31 points on 7-of-9 shooting. He also converted all five of his three-point attempts and 12 of his 15 free throws to help the Cavaliers to a 98-82 victory and a spot in the NBA Finals.
So James foresaw Gibson’s big gig before it even happened?
If you go back to the tape when he (waving his arms and screaming), [he says] I told you so! I told you! Gibson added in an interview with The Athletic. The night before he had 45,000 points, so about 29 in a row. I think he was looking for someone to help him. He knew they would come out, pounce on him and come after him. So he told me to get ready. The rest is history.
James and the Cavs ended up losing in the finals to the San Antonio Spurs, but the fact that they got this far is incredible. James certainly had a lot to do with it, but so did his former Cavaliers teammate Daniel Gibson.
Statistics provided by Basketball Reference
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