Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Boobie Prize

Two off-seasons ago the Cavaliers offered a grossly inflated contract, both in years and dollar amount, to Larry Hughes. One can argue that they didn’t have a choice. The team had big money to spend and free agents Ray Allen and Michael Redd had already snubbed the Cavs to stay with their respective teams. The Cavs needed to make a splash with LeBron’s walk year fast approaching and the team’s fanbase already wringing their hands in speculative anguish over the King possibly leaving for a bigger market.

Hughes was signed by Danny Ferry as a lockdown defender with some scoring punch...even though Hughes was a career 41% shooter from the field upon inking the Cavs generous offer. With treacherous rat Carlos Boozer !!Stabbing a Blind Man in the Back!! and escaping to Mormon country, Hughes was tabbed by SVAC management as the Robin to LeBron’s Batman—a solid (if not spectacular) veteran who could vault the team to the next level.

The Cavs are at the next level, but Hughes hasn’t been the one to help them get there. He’s shown flashes of good play, but those flashes have been as brief and soundless as summer lightening. It’s true that Hughes is currently playing out of position, and I do admire his effort to start Game 4 against the Pistons on a bum foot, but unfortunately Hughes’s career-long penchant for fragility (one healthy season in nine years) and mediocre outside shooting (30-some percent in the 2007 playoffs) have come to fruition.

This sad circumstance would usually cause Cleveland fans to nod knowingly and blame the sports gods for smiting us once again. Not so fast, Potsie. As of this writing, the Cavaliers have tied the Eastern Conference Finals at two apiece and have the momentum going into Game 5. A large part of this surprising development can be attributed to the babyfaced (heh) second-round pick from Texas who for the last two games has put on the Robin spandex to become LeBron’s high-energy new sidekick--Daniel “Boobie” Gibson.

Gibson was brought in as the point guard of the future. But this guy’s a pure scorer who over the last couple of games has given the Cavs a burst of aggressive energy. Gibson had shown some shooting touch this year, but for whatever reason, his game has picked up several dimensions against Roit.

The rookie doesn’t just hang around the 3-point line. He’s sunk a few midrange jumpers (always a sketchy proposition for the Cavs) including a sweet turnaround J from above the free-throw line. Gibson seems fearless too, despite the enormous stage of the ECF...Tuesday he drove to the hoop against far bigger players. It gave me great joy to see him go right at Rasheed and draw a foul. Gibson’s hitting his free throws, too. When was the last time any Cav went 12 for 12 from the stripe? What about defense? Gibson’s availed himself quite nicely...another surprise. Sunday night he harassed the hell out of Billups and came up with a couple of big stops. Plus he drew a huge charging foul against Billups in Tuesday’s game.

Of course, you probably can’t count on Gibson to average 21 points for the rest of this series. The Cavs will need somebody, be it Z, Gooden, or Hughes to get hot in order to put the Pistons down. Just the same, Gibson and LeBron have obvious chemistry on the court. Maybe Boobie can truly be the Pippen to LeBron’s Jordan; the Batman to his Robin; the Jannetty to his Michaels.