The day LeBron James gave any Detroit Piston who guarded him a bucket and scored 25 straight points
The night King James was born at the Palace
It is no small detail that the night LeBron James came into the full weight of his nickname, “King James,” he did so at an arena called The Palace.
In that Game 5 matchup, the Cleveland Cavaliers forward did to the Detroit Pistons what Oprah Winfrey often did to the guests who attended her live show. Rip Hamilton, you get a bucket! Chauncey Billups, you get a bucket! Ben Wallace, you can get a bucket and dunked on!
James didn’t discriminate on the night of May 31, 2007. He was just wheeling against anyone who made the folly of stepping up to check him. With the Eastern Conference finals tied 2-2, the four-year veteran scored 29 of the Cavaliers’ final 30 points, including 25 straight, in Cleveland’s 109-107 double-overtime win at The Palace of Auburn Hills.
“Why should I be surprised? I was making a lot of great moves,” James said. “They are definitely a great defensive team, but I was determined to attack.
“I’m banged up, I’m winded, I’m fatigued. I’ve got all day tomorrow. It’s going to be tough to get some rest when you got a crazy 2-year-old running around the house. So hopefully, I can take him to one of his grandma’s houses.”
With 6:05 remaining, the 22-year-old had eight points less than his regular-season average (19 points) and Cleveland had a 79-78 lead. But for the next 16 minutes, the King James show was in full effect. He scored in any way he wanted, and got to any place on the floor he desired, and there was nothing the Pistons could do to slow him down.
Over the course of those final six minutes and two overtime periods, James used layups, pull-up jumpers, 3-pointers and any other scoring method he saw fit to record 29 of the Cavaliers’ final 30 points. Drew Gooden, who made one of his two free throws with 2:49 left, was the only Cleveland player to score besides James.
Detroit’s best bet for the onslaught to stop was for James to not be as aggressive, but he continued to attack the rim and the Pistons’ defense. He kept every last player in a Detroit jersey on his heels and made sure they felt every ounce of the helplessness he was inflicting on them.
When it was all done, James finished with his then-career-high 48 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists and 2 steals. He turned the No. 1 seed and the sixth-best defensive team during the regular season on its head, with exclamation points in tow, and silenced those who had questioned his greatness.
“We threw everything we had at him,” Billups said after the game. “We just couldn’t stop him.”
Game 6 was a blowout, as the Cavaliers took the series back home to Cleveland and finished Detroit with a 98-82 win. This would be the first of James’ nine NBA Finals appearances. The San Antonio Spurs would sweep the Cavs, but that night on May 31 at The Palace was the game where the King was born in all his glory.