Shoot It, Boobie!

Daniel Gibson has never been one to shy away from the big stage.

Even though Boobie is considered to be one of the Cavaliers savvy vets – and he is – Gibson won’t turn 25 until later this month. But while Cleveland’s rookies are just getting used to the NBA spotlight, Gibson was already basking it in at that age.

Of course, to wrap up his rookie season, Boobie became a household name by dismantling Detroit – going 5-for-5 from beyond the arc, scoring 19 of his 31 points in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals. In the NBA Finals against San Antonio, Gibson became just the second rookie besides Sam Cassell to average double-figure scoring in the Championship round.

The next year, Gibson was selected for both the Rookie Challenge and the Three-Point Shootout in New Orleans.

In the first half of the Rookie Challenge, Gibson tied the record for total three-pointers made, despite not being a starter in the game. He later set the record in the second half with eleven total three-pointers, finishing the game shooting 11-20 from beyond the arc. Gibson was named MVP of the game, finishing with 33 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals.

The next night, Gibson finished in second place in the Shootout, advancing to the final round by scoring 17 points in the first round, tying him with Dirk Nowitzki. In the final round, Gibson again scored 17 points, but it wasn’t enough. Defending champion Jason Kapono tied Craig Hodges' 22-year shootout record of 25 points on his final rack – and walked away with back-to-back victories.

At this year’s Foot Locker Three-Point Contest on Saturday night in Los Angeles, Gibson will take on last year’s champ, Paul Pierce, the top three-point shooter in NBA history, Ray Allen, along with Miami sharpshooter James Jones, Golden State’s Dorrell Wright and Gibson’s fellow former Longhorn, Kevin Durant.

After Wednesday’s big win over the Lakers, Gibson took a minute to talk about the task at hand …

Do you shoot against the competition or against yourself?
Daniel Gibson: You shoot against yourself. If you pick any six guys out of the NBA to shoot threes, more than likely, those guys are going to be lights-out shooters. And on any given night, one of those guys can catch fire and win the competition.

So, no matter what, you go in there and do what you do best. Just go out there and shoot the ball as comfortably as you can and relish the opportunity, enjoy the opportunity.

Is it big to be going against your buddy, Kevin Durant?
Gibson: Oh yeah. That’s going to give me some juice. Seeing K.D. on the sideline is going to give me some juice.

He’ll be talking a lot of junk, but he’ll make it comfortable for me, too. It’ll be competition within the competition.

And you’ve got Ray Allen, the NBA’s top three-point shooter of all-time. You’ve got Pierce – last year’s winner. So it’s all kind of games within the game to give you that added extra motivation to go win it.

We’ve all heard the Larry Bird stories. Is the completion good-natured or does it get a little more serious down the stretch?
Gibson: It’s good natured. But it is a competition, now! Everybody wants to hold that trophy up at the end.

At the same time, it’s good natured. Guys understand: it’s All-Star Break. We’ve all been selected – it’s just six guys – to have an opportunity to shoot in this competition. So we all laugh and joke and try to put on a good show for the fans. But at the same time, we all want to win it.

Have you been able to practice?
Gibson: I’m going to try to, because I’ve been injured and haven’t had a chance to do anything.

I’ll try to practice (on Thursday) and I’ll try to practice (Friday) night if I can. Every chance I get, I’ll try to get some shots up, get my rhythm.

What I have to do is condition my legs. All that jumping and jumping and jumping, it’s possible that I could get tired heading into the final rack.

Is it more physically demanding that people think?
Gibson: (Laughs) I tell people: “For a minute straight, just jump, jump, jump. At the same time, try to focus on doing something else. That’s kind of what it’s like.

What does it mean to be representing Cleveland and the Cavaliers this weekend?
Gibson: It means a lot to me. I’m not big on personal achievements. But me, being in the competition, once I get out there with that Cleveland jersey on, the whole world gets to see me shoot and represent Cleveland.

So it’s like, all the fans that have been kind of down and out about the season, it’ll give them something to smile about. ‘We got Boobie out there in the three-point shootout. Hope he wins it.’

It gives the city something to cheer for.