Rookie Tales: Daniel Gibson

October 18, 2012
Daniel Gibson

There’s one thing that every NBA player has in common – from superstars to end-of-the-bench guys: At one point, they were all rookies. They’ve all picked up the donuts. They’ve all gone into the arena seats to recover the basketballs that the veterans punted up there.

But not all rookies go through their freshman season the same way. Some came to a team with established vets; some were forced to start right away. And this season, will take a look back – or take a current look – at some of the current Cavaliers rookie seasons.

Up first is Daniel Gibson.

Everyone remembers Boobie shooting the lights out against Detroit – and shooting the Wine and Gold into the 2007 NBA Finals. But you might not have known what veteran guards influenced the former Longhorn when he first arrived in Cleveland.

The Cavaliers tabbed Michigan State swingman Shannon Brown with the 25th pick of the 2006 Draft. Gibson was taken 17 selections later. In his rookie season, Boobie made his presence known with a massive dunk against Indiana and went on to start 16 games in his first year. Of course, Boobie became a household name when he netted 31 points against Detroit in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

Gibson is one of the club’s grizzled veterans now – assuming the role of mentor on one of the youngest teams in the league. But Boobie still remembers his early days in the NBA …

Who were the guys who took you under their wing when you first came to Cleveland as a rookie?
Daniel Gibson: I was pretty blessed when I first got here. I got it from every angle you could imagine. And they were all willing to teach me in their own way.

Like E-Snow, he felt like I could possibly be coming for his job. So he really didn’t want to help me too much. So, he was the one that was teaching me the toughest. It was straight competition, fighting me and everything. If I was late for anything, he’d be on me. He’d call me “rook” all the time. That was E-Snow.

Then, on the other hand you have D-Jones, who’s also from Texas. He was trying to tell me the ins and outs of just enjoying this level. He was super laid-back – having fun but still playing at a high level. He was shooting, always working on his shooting.

Then there was David Wesley. I just felt like David Wesley was the total package – the ultimate professional. Totally competitive. And then we had a lot of the same traits because he was a smaller guy who did a lot shooting the ball and making plays.

D-Wes helped from the aspect of being professional and learning how to handle myself at this level.

The Cavaliers’ last two Drafts had the team bring in a pair of rookies each season and you came in with Shannon Brown. Does it help to come in to the league with a fellow rookie?
Gibson: No doubt about it. Because when they make you go get the newspaper and go get the donuts, you have somebody that’s rolling with you.

So (Shannon and I) would just ride in the same car and switch days. It’d be 7:30 in the morning, but as long as you have somebody with you, you feel more comfortable.

And even coming in early and shooting before everybody. We always did that together. Stay late – we always did that together. So, we developed a brotherhood.

It’s always easier to get through it when you have somebody running with you.

Two years ago, Christian Eyenga thought he wasn’t a rookie anymore late into the season – and he got his car filled with popcorn …
Gibson: Yeah. That’s still the rule around here.

Did any veterans have to tighten you up like that in your first year?
Gibson: Nah!! I mean, I got to one point with E-Snow where I felt like he wasn’t being fair, so I had to hold my ground, just as a man. He would try to make me late, making me get the newspaper. Like, intentionally. I was like, ‘I’m not going to be late picking up a newspaper for you.’ So that was about the only time.

And he tried to tell on me with Coach Brown and those guys. But they understood. There’s only so much you can give before you fight back.

And what are you like with some of the rookies since you’ve become one of the established veterans?
Gibson: I just try to look at them coming in and just try to see what I feel like they need the most.

When Kyrie came in, he had all the talent in the world. But I still felt like he was a little kid. So I felt like: sit him next to me and I’ll treat him like a little brother. If he had a bad game, a good game – I would just be in his ear like that.

And then Dion, he’s a little more of a hard-a**. And more or less with D, you have to be a little more firm. You have to let him know how it is. At the same time, you have to develop a brotherhood with him so he trusts you. He trusts me and I’m able to tell him stuff and help him grow. I think that’s where I’m at with it right now.

We have a bunch of young guys now. So it’s all fun to see them go though the same stuff we went through and watch them grow up in this league. It’s a great level to be playing at.