All in the Family

In the five years since his arrival, Cavaliers fans have watched Daniel Gibson’s transformation from wide-eyed rookie to grizzled veteran; from the fast lane to the family life.

The nickname his grandmother gave him as a boy became a household name late in his freshman campaign in Cleveland. And since those early days, Boobie has become a perennial fan favorite – a sentiment he reciprocates with the city. He’s even become a Browns fan.

Gibson has seen and done a lot in a short time.

He announced his NBA arrival with a massive early-season dunk against Indiana and went on to see action in 60 games as a rookie. But the regular season was just a warm-up.

The former Longhorn turned in one of – if not the most memorable individual playoff performances in Cavaliers history, putting the Wine and Gold in the NBA Finals with a monster Game 6 against Detroit and taking over for an injured Larry Hughes to became just the second rookie to average double-figures in the NBA Finals.

Since that time, Gibson has seen the highs and lows of Cavaliers basketball. But even in his most difficult season – last year’s 19-win campaign – Gibson put up some of the best numbers in his career, averaging 11.6 points per contest, shooting .403 from beyond the arc.

The 118 three-pointers he made last season put him within range of Danny Ferry and Wes Person on the all-time list. The two-time Three-Point Contest participant should move into the Cavaliers top three sometime this season.

Gibson's life continues to expand off the court as well. In March of 2010, Gibson’s wife – hip-hop recording superstar Keyshia Cole – gave birth to their first child, Daniel Hiram Gibson, Jr. And over the summer, the young couple tied the knot.

Boobie continues to be a fan favorite in Cleveland, and though he’s added some muscle, facial hair and new ink, he’s still the same young man with the million-dollar smile who arrived in town five years ago.

As training camp tips off, the newly-minted family man took a minute to talk about his tenure with the Wine and Gold, his role as a family man and team leader and how many man-hugs he’s gotten from Anderson Varejao over the years …

How does it feel to be one of the team’s grizzled vets?
Daniel Gibson: (Laughs) I’m the longest-tenured. The words Chris Grant and I use are “experienced in the Cleveland culture.” We know what it takes to be a Cleveland Cavalier. Me and Andy (Varejao) are the most experienced in that aspect of Cavalier basketball.

So you realize that Cleveland fans are a different breed.
Gibson: Die-hard. That’s my word for them: die-hard.

They’ve made me become a fan of the Cleveland Browns! No matter if they’re winning or losing, (the fans) are still there, with their colors on, with their hats on, in the snow – it doesn’t matter.

It’s great to be a part of. I’m spoiled, I think.

And you’ve been a fan favorite right from the start.
Gibson: Since day one, they were supporting me. They gave me a lot of added motivation, and I owe a lot of what I’ve accomplished in the NBA to their support.

After the success of your first four years, how difficult was last season?
Gibson: It was a very hard year. I just hate losing in anything I do; I’m a real competitive person.

I was here when we went to the Finals, when we had the best record. And it gives you a better feel and understanding, and a love for what it takes to win and how valuable winning is. Like we saw (last year), it can be gone – like that.

So my job here now is to help the young guys like Kyrie and Tristan – guys who are new to the league – and show them what it takes to win, knowing that if you don’t put in the work, you’ll lose. I’ve experienced both sides and I know what it’s about.

You need 76 three-pointers to pass Danny Ferry on the all-time list; 83 to pass Wes Person and get into Cleveland’s all-time top three. Do those records mean anything to you?
Gibson: See, I’m a real loyal kind of guy. And if I can move up in the Cleveland record books, knowing that I played here my entire career, it means a lot to me.

Just to be in those record books and people seeing Boobie Gibson – in the time he played, this is what he did for the Cleveland Cavaliers. That’s what means the most to me about basketball.

You’ve gone from a kid fresh out of Texas to a family man in your five years here. How much different is your life now?
Gibson: It’s like night and day. When I first got here, I got here by myself. I didn’t have anybody, and I had to figure it out. And now, my wife is here – we got married this summer – we have a son now that’s almost two. And we’re living like a family now.

It’s a totally different view of things – it’s a broader perspective and it’s a better one. I’ve learned to embrace a lot more things. I’m out of the fast lane and I’m a family man now. It’s beautiful. I have no complaints about anything.

I’m looking forward to playing basketball this year and, at the same time, being a family and continuing to grow.

You seem very happy being a family man.
Gibson: I love it. I had a dream of playing in the NBA. My dream was to make it to the NBA and play professional basketball. But my all-time dream as a little kid was to raise a family, be a family man, take care of my wife – the whole “white picket fence” thing.

That’s what means the most to me. Basketball is a plus. But family is always first.

You talk about coming to Cleveland as a rookie. Who took you under their wing when you first got here?
Gibson: (Laughs) It’s not really old school like it used to be. When I first got here, the old-school Cavs were just on their way out.

E. Snow was the hardest vet – he didn’t let me get away with nothing! And he was a snitch; he was a tattletale. He’d tell on anything I did. But he taught me about tough love. D. Jones was a little different – he was more the fun kinda guy. He taught me more about enjoying life and enjoying the NBA. And the one in the middle was David Wesley – who taught me the best of both worlds – how to be professional, but not be too much on the strict side. He gave me the happy medium. And it worked out perfectly for me.

I took advice from all three and kinda meshed them into one, and that’s what you have right now.

And do you hope to pass on some of that old guard knowledge down to Kyrie Irving?
Gibson: For sure. I actually told Cobra (equipment manager, Mark Cashman) to make sure they put his locker next to mine.

I’m not much of a talker. I do from time-to-time if I feel like you need a little help. But other than that, just for him to be around and see how I carry myself and see the time and the effort and the work that I put into it, I think that should be enough. And I think he’s already got a good head on his shoulders. He’ll figure out the rest. The plan will come easy for him.

Speaking of lockers, you have the most notable one in the locker room at The Q – in the corner, first one on the way in, last one on the way out. Do you still love that spot?
Gibson: I love it! (Laughs) I told Cobra: ‘You can’t move me.’ The locker room won’t feel right. If someone else was sitting there, it’d throw the whole locker room off. I embrace my locker and I’m the same way (at Cleveland Clinic Courts). I’m in the back, far left.

I think I’m kind of embedded, like they said, “in the Cleveland culture” right now.

As the two longest-tenured Cavaliers, how many man-hugs would you estimate you’ve gotten from Anderson Varejao over the years?
Gibson: (Laughs) Oh my God! Andy is probably just the most in-the-moment, emotional cats. If you make a big shot, anything – Andy’s gonna show you the love! Grab your head, give you a nuggie.

I can’t count how many times I’ve walked back to the huddle and he grabs me by the neck or something telling me ‘Good job!’ It’s funny – but he’s just trying to motivate me.