Taj Gibson isn't leaving anything to chance.
The Bulls' sixth man, in the midst of his best professional season thus far, wants to capitalize on the momentum he's built heading into the All-Star break. Gibson has emerged as perhaps the Bulls' most reliable scoring option and certainly the team's top low-post threat and in order to remain sharp during the NBA's annual midseason break, the big man opted not to vacation in some exotic locale, but remain in Chicago, so he can have access to the Berto Center for individual workouts.
"Because we've got a big second half," he explained. "I just want to keep my rhythm. I don't want to lose it or lax up because we've got a big second half. The second half is when teams come with it. It's the most important time, when you've got to figure out who's in the right spots, just focus. You've got to sacrifice. To win games, you've got to do certain things, so I'm going to do that to help my team win games."
Gibson also provides an alternative explanation: not incurring the wrath of Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau upon returning to action.
"You've got to hear Thibs' mouth. You've got to hear him yelling. You don't want to come from something beautiful, then come to something like that. I don't want to tease myself," he quipped. "Plus, you have to get back on the flight. I hate flying. Our plane is already scary. But I don't know, man. I just can't do that."
Gibson's approach is different than the majority of NBA players, including his teammates. According to fellow Bulls power forward Carlos Boozer, it's possible to maintain a balance between leisure and maintaining one's game during the All-Star break.
"I work out. But I go home. It's a chance to be home, play with my kids and go to the beach a little but, try to work on a tan if I can. But I definitely work out, stay in shape and work on my game," explained Boozer, who has an offseason home in Miami. "A little of both. You've got to have a good mixture of both. When you want to get your body healthy for the finish and for the playoffs, and at the same time, you want to be able get away from the game to refresh your thoughts and get ready for the finish coming up. But you also have to tip-toe that with staying in shape and staying ready.
"I think we're playing very well, but it's good for everybody to get a chance to have a break, to get away and then come back ready for the finish."
Of course, center Joakim Noah is experiencing a different kind of break than Boozer's more typical getaway or Gibson's extremist strategy. Selected as an Eastern Conference All-Star reserve, Noah will play in Sunday evening's game, the lone Bulls representative alongside rivals like the Indiana tandem of Paul George and Roy Hibbert, and Miami's trio of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Paul George.
"It's going to be fun. It's going to be weird, awkward and fun, all at the same time," said Noah, adding, "I'm a live in the moment type of guy."
No matter where the All-Star break takes them, that seems to be the M.O. for the Bulls as a whole. Even Thibodeau embraced that spirit, giving his blessing to Noah taking a breather while in the "Big Easy."
"Just go there, enjoy yourself, try to get a little bit of rest," the coach said. "This will be his second time around. I think he's earned it. We're proud of him. It's a game that's for the fans, so it's great. It really is."