Most of you may have seen the highlight this week of the Detroit Pistons’ Reggie Jackson trying to ice Minnesota Timberwolves swingman Jimmy Butler at the stripe during the end of an extremely tight game.
With the game in Butler’s hands, Reggie decided to step up before Jimmy received the ball to talk ‘strategy’ with Stanley Johnson. Butler was visibly annoyed by the interruption and proceeded to miss the next free throw. Minnesota lost that game 100-97.
Although losing a regular season game like this doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things, it certainly does when it’s a first-round playoff matchup.
With the Cleveland Cavaliers facing the Pistons the immediate game after the Detroit-Minnesota matchup, LeBron was asked about Jackson’s antics before the game.
I’ve done it before,” James told Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. “I won a playoff series before doing that actually. So, I’m all for it. ”
The exact playoff series LeBron is talking about was all the way back in 2007, when James’ Cavs were facing off against Gilbert Arenas and the Washington Wizards. With Cleveland up 3-2 in the series, Game 6 came down to the wire. With 15.1 seconds left in overtime, the Wizards were down 113-112 with Agent Zero at the stripe for two free throws.
A career 81% free throw shooter up to that point, Arenas missed the first free throw. No big deal, Gilbert could still tie the game if he hit the second. That’s when LeBron approached Arenas between free throws and say something to him before patting him on the chest. Can you guess what happens next?
LeBron reportedly said “”If you miss this, you know the series over right” straight to Gilbert’s face, and you can see the tactic worked.
The Cavaliers went on to reach the NBA Finals that year in James’ first Finals appearance, but fell to the San Antonio Spurs in four games.