Posted By RichC on June 4, 2007
As Terry Pluto for the Akron Beacon puts it, “The NBA has a new king!” LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers is the new face of the NBA, according to Reggie Miller of the Indiana Pacers. The Cavaliers beat the Detroit Pistons in game six on Saturday night to head into the NBA Finals to move on as Eastern Conference champions. It could not have been done without 22 year old superstar LeBron James, who commented that the fans in Cleveland deserved this trophy. Its been a long time. (click for larger photo)
But as Pluto goes on to say … It’s not just about LeBron. It really is about winning. Yes, in Game 5 at the Palace of Auburn Hills, it was nearly All-LeBron, all the time as he scored the Cavs’ final 25 points, and 29-of-30. But the real LeBron was in Game 6, when he told rookie Daniel Gibson: “Detroit is going to double-team me, triple-team before I cross halfcourt. So get that gun and get it locked and loaded, and just shoot it. Don’t second-guess yourself.” That’s the kind of blessing a veteran Michael Jordan gave to guards such as John Paxson and Steve Kerr in big playoff games. Here’s a 22-year-old James telling it to a 21-year-old rookie, who averaged only 4.5 points this season. And there was Gibson, torching the Pistons for 31 points — on only nine field goal field-goal attempts.
You might never see a box-score line quite like that again: 7-of-9 from the field, 5-of-5 on 3-pointers, 12-of-15 at the foul line. The little 6-foot-1 guard even had six rebounds. You look at James’ shooting and see 3-of-11 from the field, which doesn’t appear to be much of game. While James was in his Michael Jordan mode in Game 5 (48 points) at Detroit, he flipped the Magic Johnson switch for Game 6. He empowered his teammates, passing off for eight assists. He went inside for 14 rebounds and drove to the basket, continually drawing fouls and making 14-of-19 free throws and scoring 20 points. He didn’t make a field goal until four minutes into the third quarter. Didn’t matter, he was leading his team without shooting.