Local Hero

He’s still got the nickname his grandmother gave him. He’s got more ink and facial hair than he did as a rookie. But he’s still got the smile. He ALWAYS has the smile.

Sometimes – even during tough times – Daniel Gibson looks like he’s actually smiling when he’s playing.

“Growing up, my parents were two hard-working people,” explains Boobie. “And every day, they’d go to work – be up at six in the morning, get back eight at night – and we didn’t have the best things, but I was proud of the fact that my parents went to work every day and came home with a smile on their face. Regardless of what was going on, they always had a smile on their face and made sure there was food on the table.

“So if they could do that for us, to show them gratitude, I try to be the same type of person. I don’t let anything affect me, because I know there's more things that could be so much worse. I try to be an inspiration to people. Stay the course, keep working, and it always gets better.”

In Saturday night’s win over New York, Gibson was an abysmal 4-for-20 from the floor. With Jamario Moon playing well in his first action in almost two weeks, Coach Scott gave him the start in overtime. As the Cavaliers pulled away from New York, Gibson was the first one off the bench to encourage his teammates. No sulking. Just support.

Two nights later, in Wednesday’s loss to the Jazz, Gibson bounced back with a career-high 29 points – going 7-for-8 from beyond the arc.

He stayed the course, he kept working, and things got better.

Maybe that’s one of the reasons Clevelanders love Boobie, why they’ve adopted him as one of their own. The kid from Houston bounces back.

It’s hard to believe that Daniel Gibson has been in Cleveland for half a decade. Only Anderson Varejao has a longer tenure.

“What a lot of people don’t remember is that I came here when I was 19, 20 years old,” recalled Gibson. “I was shell-shocked, I can’t lie. I didn’t have anybody with me, I came here on my own and I had to figure it out. And because I had success, the city just embraced me. They were looking forward to me doing great things, and it made the transition smoother.”

Gibson knew he wanted to be in Cleveland long before he got his name called in June of 2006. After working out for his hometown Rockets, he came to the North Coast for a workout. After that audition at the old practice court at The Q, Boobie knew.

“I think some things are supposed to happen,” said Gibson. “After that workout – I knew they had two picks, and I knew they were going to take me with one of them. I had never had a workout like that before – making every shot, dunking. It was just out of this world! And I think that’s the way it was supposed to happen.”

He made an early rookie splash when he crushed home a massive one-handed dunk against Indiana. But on a veteran-laden squad, Gibson didn’t make his next big splash – and it was a huge splash – when he scored 19 of his 31 points in the fourth quarter of Game 6 against the Pistons, canning five bombs to put the Cavaliers in the Finals for the first and only time in franchise history.

“I think when me and Cleveland really came together was Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals,” said the former Longhorn. “That’s definitely one of the games – you play so many – but that’s one you never forget. And that’s definitely one at the top of my charts that I’ll never forget because not only did I have a great game, but Cleveland – as a team – went to the NBA Finals. I think that was special for the city.”

Since then, Gibson has seen the highs and the lows. Through it all, Boobie continues to shoot it. Including his seven trifectas from Wednesday night, he now has 404 for his career – good for 5th place on the Cavaliers all-time list and just 139 behind the man who drafted Gibson, former GM Danny Ferry.

“That’s the guy I really want to catch right there,” grinned Gibson. “I’ll make sure I put in a call to him.”

The Cavaliers were a hot commodity even before Gibson’s heroics put them in the Finals. But from that point forward, “Boobie” became a one-namer – both in Cleveland and around the NBA.

Through the next few years, however, Boobie often found himself on the short end of Coach Mike Brown’s rotation. Last season alone, Gibson went 9-1 as a starter while also getting 26 DNP-CDs.

Gibson has persevered through good times and bad – keeping a smile on his face and continuing to work hard. And this season, at just 24 years old, he’s had a rebirth under new head coach, Byron Scott.

This season, Boobie – averaging 13.8 ppg as of Wednesday – is close to doubling his career mark of 7.3 ppg.

And while Daniel Gibson’s professional career has seen some ups and downs, his personal life is part of the reason for his constant smile. That million-dollar smile landed Gibson his current fiancée, Keyshia Cole – who also happens to be a platinum-selling R&B recording artist.

But unlike certain celebrity couples, Gibson insists that he and Keyshia are as happy out of the spotlight as in it.

“The thing about me and her, I think why we click so well, is because we’re two of your most average people,” explained Boobie. “We just happen to be set on a different stage because of what we do. When you come to us as people, we’re just regular people.

“We always talk about living in more family-oriented communities, instead of going to the big markets. We’re just down-to-earth people.”

And last spring, Daniel and Keyshia welcomed their first child, Daniel Hiram Gibson, Jr. into the world.

“(Having a child) has made me more responsible,” said the new father. “I’ve always been a big kid myself, just kind of having fun. But now, when you’ve got him, it gives you a different perspective. It makes you be more responsible. I want to make sure he’s OK. I want to make sure my wife is OK. I think it’s turned me into a man.”

Gibson has gone from that 19-year-old kid who turned in the lights-out workout at The Q to one of the Cavaliers grizzled veterans. He’s a family man now. And while the new-look Wine and Gold continue to find themselves, he’s developed as one of this young team’s leaders.

Cleveland has loved Boobie from the start, and that feeling has been reciprocal. It’s a city that knows how to bounce back – just like their squad’s starting guard.

“I’m one of the longest-tenured guys on this club, and I think the guys look to me,” said Gibson. “If they check my spirits and see that I’m down, they’ll get down as well. I try to be that positive influence – (showing that) no matter what’s going on, if you continue to stay positive, it always gets better. And that’s what I try to show the team.

“You lose some games – it’s going to happen in this league. But the teams that persevere are the teams that have something to show for it at the end.”

Joe Gabriele is the official beat writer for the Cleveland Cavaliers on Cavs.com. You can follow Joe and send him your questions on Twitter at @CavsJoeG.