LeBron James says playoff battles vs. Pistons early in career helped his development
Of all the teams he has faced in the Playoffs, Cavs superstar LeBron James, now 32 years of age and in his 15th season of NBA service, says playing the Detroit Pistons helped him the most during the early stages of his career.
“It helped me out with my development, with my mental side of the game as well,” James told ESPN’s Dave McMenamin after Monday morning’s shoot-around in Motown. “(It) worked my mental toughness, my physical toughness, my competitive nature, going against those teams. Understanding what you need in order to be successful, or how to win, how to compete. They definitely have a chapter in my book.”
As most hoops fans will remember, the Cavs and Pistons went toe-to-toe on several occasions in James’ younger days. In fact, the Pistons beat James and the Cavs in a seven-game series in the 2006 Eastern Conference Semifinals, only to be defeated by the Miami Heat (2006 champions) in the next round.
The following season (2006-07), the Pistons claimed the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference with a 53-29 overall record. The Cavs, who came into that season’s Playoffs as a No. 2 seed (50-32), went on to claim the Eastern Conference crown. However, Cleveland was later swept by the San Antonio Spurs in the Finals, 4-0.
The rivalry between the Cavs and Pistons has died down a bit since those days, but they’ll have a chance to rekindle the flame on Monday night, when the two teams face each other inside the newly-dubbed Little Caesars Arena. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. EST with Fox Sports Ohio and Fox Sports Detroit having live broadcast coverage.