Friday, Feb. 18, 2011Posted: 7:20 PM Updated: 10:30 PM
By Aggrey Sam
Going to Los Angeles for All-Star weekend has a special significance for Bulls big man Taj Gibson. Gibson, who participated in Friday nights T-Mobile Rookie Challenge and will take part in Saturdays Haier Shooting Stars competition, attended the University of Southern California for three years and also finished high school in California, at Stoneridge Prep.
Thats my second home. Ive been out there half of my life, Gibson told CSNChicago.com after Thursday nights Bulls win over the league-leading San Antonio Spurs. Its a wonderful feeling to go back and see old friends and family.
Im just looking forward to getting out there and getting some good food, continued the Brooklyn, N.Y., native, who contributed six points, six rebounds and two blocked shots off the bench in Thursday nights victory. Some Roscoes Chicken and Waffles a landmark L.A. restaurant. Theres nothing like that.
Home cooking aside, Gibson is pleased to be in the rookie-sophomore game for the second straight season, albeit under different circumstances. A starter for 70 regular-season games and Chicagos first-round playoff series last season as a member of the NBAs all-rookie first team, Gibson also began this season as the Bulls starting power forward, but it was knowingly temporary with offseason free-agent acquisition out at the beginning of the season. Gibsons numbers initially dipped when he first adjusted to his reserve role and hes been hit with the injury bug, but he seems to have found his groove coming off the bench as of late and is grateful coaches around the league appreciate his blue-collar game, regardless of his decreased playing time.
It means a lot, just trying to prove myself in this league by playing hard and trying to get better and improve, Gibson told CSNChicago.com. Even with the lack of minutes Ive been playing this year, the coaches still saw how hard I played, how good I can be and Im honored.
Gibson was reunited with former USC teammate DeMar DeRozan in the game, but the former Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year also took notice of two of his opponents from Thursdays game who will also participate in the event, which he expects to be interesting to see.
Ive seen Spurs rookie sharpshooter Gary Neal light it up Thursday night, when he scored 16 points off the bench against the Bulls and of course, Spurs second-year starting power forward DeJuan Blair, you know what hes done all year, Gibson said.
The second-year forward finished the rookie-sophomore game with eight points, two rebounds, a block and a steal in 18 minutes.
As for the Shooting Stars event, while Gibson is a confident mid-range shooter, hes not exactly the second coming of former Bulls marksman Steve Kerr. Yet, Saturday evening, hell team up with the ex-Bulls guard and Chicago Sky sharpshooter Catherine Kraayveld to represent the Windy City.
I see it all the time, but I never thought Id play in it and Im honored that theyd even ask me to be a part of that, especially with Steve Kerr and representing Chicago, so Im looking forward to it, said Gibson, whose November halfcourt buzzer-beater at Dallas was his first three-pointermade or attemptedat either the professional or college level. Im going to try to display his range. Im going to go for the halfcourt shot. Im going to go for mostly everything I can.