One-on-One with Daniel Gibson
As a rookie, Gibson went from a second-rounder to the pinnacle of the league – shooting the Cavaliers into the NBA Finals with a 31-point outburst in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals against Detroit.
In his second season, he defied the proverbial Sophomore Slump – improving his game in every area and punctuating his ascension by taking home MVP honors at the Rookie Challenge during All-Star Weekend in New Orleans. Injuries slowed him down later in the campaign, but Boobie is healed and ready for another big season.
The third-year sharpshooter from Texas took a minute before Camp commences to talk with cavs.com about his rehabbing, inking his new extension and how he spent his summer vacation.
What was your offseason like?
Daniel Gibson: It was a good offseason for me. It was the first off-season I’ve had in a while where I could kind of get away a little bit. I guess my injury allowed me to do that. I had to rehab.
That’s what the first half of my summer was – rehabbing and getting back healthy. And the second half was getting back in shape and getting ready for the season.
You had to deal with a couple of injuries this offseason, which was unusual for you. How does the shoulder feel, for starters?
Gibson: It feels good. I didn’t have surgery. It was just a process that I had to go through and let it heal on its own. They said it probably won’t ever be completely back at 100 percent. But it won’t affect me playing basketball.
As far as my ankle goes, I had the surgery and it was successful. And I’m happy I did it. I don’t feel pain anymore. I’m back to 100 percent.
Was the shoulder injury more painful because it cost you the final two games of the Boston series?
Gibson: Yeah, I didn’t sleep well for weeks after that game. Because you visualize things you could have done. ‘What if I was healthy?’ ‘What could I have done?’
You almost get to a point where you feel like you let your teammates down. It was just hard. That time was really hard for me. But they always say: what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. So I just think that particular situation made me stronger.
How did you feel when you heard about the other backcourt moves Cleveland made in the offseason – trading for Mo Williams and re-signing Delonte West?
Gibson: I feel good about it. I feel like we have everything you could ask for in a backcourt. All of us do different things on the floor, and it’s going to be fun to see us out there playing together – with all of us feeding off of one another.
How important was it for you to get your deal signed early in the summer?
Gibson: That was big for me, because I had my injury and I had everything else going on.
And I also wanted the Cavs – if they wanted to do something in the offseason – I didn’t want to be that guy who was holding up the process. I felt like Cleveland was where I wanted to be. I knew that from the beginning. I just felt like the quicker I could get a deal done, the better.
You like to spend your off-season with your family back in Houston. Were you able to this year?
Gibson: That was the entire summer. My entire summer was spending time with my family.
My grandmother – I spent time with her. She’s in Houston; she’s in a home now. So I spent the majority of the summer days hanging out with her.
And of course, I had my bowling thing. I’m bowling around 200, consistently. Almost every game. I’m at the top of my game right now.
So are you better at bowling or piano right now?
Gibson: Bowling. But I want to get better at piano. I know a couple songs. I know chords, mostly. I need to learn how to read music and start going at it like that.
How was your family affected by Hurricane Ike?
Gibson: For a while, pretty much my entire family was staying at my place in Pearland (Texas).
For two weeks, the area where we’re from still didn’t have electricity. Everybody – my mom, my father, grandfather, grandma, aunt, uncle – stayed at my place. My mom was telling me that she made breakfast that weekend and it was like an assembly line with people just moving through, grabbing what they want. But she says it’s been kind of fun – to be able to around everyone, playing cards and just kind of enjoying each other. So, we tried to make the most of it.
Is there anything specific you worked on this offseason?
Gibson: This off-season was a little different. I continued to get up a lot of shots, like normal. Me and Chris Jent, we’re constantly working on mid-range – getting up floaters and things like that. The in-between game, ball-handling. So those are the things we work on every day.
It wasn’t like there was a big emphasis on anything. It was just continuing to improve, become a better player and reach my potential.
Were you able to spend time with Coach (John) Lucas this summer?
Gibson: I wasn’t able to get with him as much as I have in past summers. But I was with him for a couple weeks. I did a lot of work with T.J. (Ford). He has his own guy that he works with, and he and I did a lot of things with him – working on strength-training and things like that.
Why do you like working with Coach Lucas?
Gibson: I love his intensity. He’s been there; he was a No. 1 pick.
Coach Luke doesn’t sugar-coat anything. That’s what I love about him. If he feels like there’s something he needs to say to you, he’s not going to say it in a nice way. He’s not going to figure out the best way to say it to you. He’s going to tell you exactly how it is.
And working with someone like that, you’re going to bring everything you got. And you’re going to respect everything because it’s not biased. He’s basically telling you how it is. He’s kind of been my mentor this whole time.
Have you had any words of wisdom for the rookies – J.J. Hickson and Darnell Jackson?
Gibson: I’ve been telling J.J. and Darnell – who was a second-round pick like myself – that nothing’s going to be given to you. You have to come in, ready to out-work everybody. Be here before everybody gets here. Leave after everybody leaves. Take everything anyone has to offer you mentally.
I felt like my path wasn’t easy. Theirs won’t be either. There are a lot of guys ahead of them. So, I just basically told them, it’s not easy playing at this level. But once you get there, and you work at it, you get a swagger and a confidence about yourself. And if you do that, you’ll feel like you belong.
Do you have any personal goals going into this season?
Gibson: For me, personally, I just want to do whatever I can to help us win a Championship. That’s what we’re working for here: to win it all. Whatever it takes, that’s my personal goal.
I don’t have any goals as far as ‘win this award, win that award.’ I just want to help my team.
We have a lot of guys who are ready to get out there and get it started. As far as a group of guys – I feel really, really good about this team. I think this could be a special year for us.