Nearly five years after LeBron James‘ unbelievable night in the Eastern Conference Finals, the memory is the only thing that remains from May 31, 2007.
Both Cleveland, with Kyrie Irving, and Detroit, with Brandon Knight and Greg Monroe, are rebuilding from their peaks, a process that continues in tonight’s matchup in Cleveland. The Game 5 moment was the end for the Chauncey Billups Era in the Motor City. The James Gang in Cleveland would last three more seasons before one Decision changed that.
Tonight’s game between the Pistons and Cavs is a chance to watch two young teams who could be contenders in a couple years, but that’s not nearly as fun as remembering the night LeBron drew comparisons to Magic Johnson after scoring 29 of his team’s final 30 points. The total: 48 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and a 3-2 lead in the conference finals that led to an NBA Finals appearance.
Pretty amazing stuff as it is, but there’s another layer here, too.
It’s also a line of demarcation for NBA fans, that point before LeBron was considered a choker in the clutch. We had no inclination, up to this point, that he was the late-game savant his game against the Pistons would suggest — let alone someone whose legacy would go the complete other way and be taunted in every court in the country for struggling in the clutch.
But this performance gave credence to his “King” label. It could be a while before we see anything like that again, but we’ll watch tonight’s Cavs game anyway.
What’s the best playoff performance of the last 10 years?
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