It took Michael Jordan seven years to get to the NBA finals. It took most sports fans two games of the 2007 Eastern Conference Finals to officially write-off LeBron James.
In Game 1, James scored only ten points, looked frustrated at times, and passed away the final shot. Detroit won by three in the Palace.
In Game 2, LeBron and the Cavs threw away a 50-38 halftime lead on the road, allowing the Pistons a third quarter run. Seemingly, with the final seconds ticking off the clock and the ball in the hands of King James, all was not lost, but Lebron would drive to the hoop and miss the potential game-winning shot. “Jordan would have made that shot,” said a million fans in a million bars. “Took Michael three seasons to get through Detroit,” some weary, but eternally optimistic Clevelanders muttered over their collective beers. Guess we’ll just pack it in and wait for next year.
But that’s not what 22 year-old James (the same age as Michael Jordan in his first NBA season) was thinking.
In Games 3 and 4, LeBron James had a combined 57 points, 16 rebounds and 20 assists to lead the Cavaliers to two wins over the Pistons, knotting the series at two a piece. James was simply magnificent.
Still, it was Game 5, an unprecedented individual playoff performance, an effort that no NBA great, not Michael, not Magic, not Wilt, no NBA great could have matched, it was Game 5 that those of us who sat in disbelief will remember as the greatest individual performance in NBA playoff history. At the Palace in Auburn Hills, Miiiiiichigan, LeBron James scored 48 points, had nine rebounds and seven assists to lead his team to a 109-107 victory over the Pistons. James scored his team’s last 25 points, double and triple-teamed, at times slashing through the Pistons’ entire starting five, like a drug-resistant TB patient through airport security, on his way to the basket.
Everyone in the building knew who was getting the ball and what he was going to do with it, and the Pistons still could not stop him. The Bad Boys of Detroit–and I’m not being mocking here, the Detroit Pistons can play some hellacious defense–were simply no match for Number 23. James’ 48 points were a new franchise record for the Cleveland Cavaliers, an effort that transcends the label of Jordanesque: what LeBron did was Jamesian.
And tonight, LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers are poised to do what took Jordan and the Bulls 7 seasons together: earn a berth in the NBA finals.
Will you be a witness?