Gibson proud to rep Bulls in All-Star festivities

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Gibson proud to rep Bulls in All-Star festivities

Friday, Feb. 18, 2011Posted: 7:20 PM Updated: 10:30 PM

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

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.

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.com's Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.

Fast Break Morning Update: Blackhawks win, Jimmy Butler starts All-Star Game

Fast Break Morning Update: Blackhawks win, Jimmy Butler starts All-Star Game

Here are some of Sunday's top stories in Chicago sports:

Jimmy Butler: 'Hopefully I’m not going to get traded'

Patrick Kane leads Blackhawks to win in Buffalo homecoming

What Joe Maddon wants to see next from Javier Baez

Jose Abreu ready for 2017 after season full of 'different challenges'

Wojnarowski: Bulls-Celtics Jimmy Butler trade talks 'will loom over the entire week'

After surreal offseason, Ben Zobrist comes to Cubs camp in style as World Series MVP

White Sox rookie Charlie Tilson out at least 10 days with foot injury

Fire score five goals for fourth preseason win

Simeon beats rival Morgan Park for city championship

Former Northwestern football player Torri Stuckey now focuses on helping others

Jimmy Butler: 'Hopefully I’m not going to get traded'

Jimmy Butler: 'Hopefully I’m not going to get traded'

NEW ORLEANS — Every All-Star isn’t created equal, even by the slimmest of margins as the best 24 NBA players take their turn on the midseason stage.

So Jimmy Butler being announced among the first five as an All-Star starter had to represent some form of validation, now that he’s not a novice at the whole experience and he’s able to go through the motions of the hectic weekend without breaking much of a sweat.

But despite being a three-time All-Star and routinely mentioned as one of the game’s top 15 players or even top 10, he can’t shake the trade rumors that have seemed to follow him since this time last season.

As he finished up his All-Star experience at Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, clarity was nowhere to be found—although heading to some tropical island for a couple days to actually unwind with clear water and warm air seemed to be the best therapy if he’s stressed by the uncertainty of the next few days.

“What’s Thursday? Oh, trade deadline,” Butler said. “I don’t know. I don’t know. Am I anxious? Come on, man. I don’t worry about it. It don’t bother or scare me none.”

“Hopefully I’m not going to get traded but I don’t know. I don’t control that. Control what I can control, like going on vacation.”

Surely it has to be frustrating for a guy who’s elevated his game yet again, averaging 24.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 1.8 steals for the Bulls in 51 games. But he refuses to let it damper his All-Star spirits, playing with some of the best players in the world and a few guys he calls friends, like DeAndre Jordan and Kevin Durant.

“Not for me,” said Butler of the potential stress. “Not saying I’m untradeable but I don’t think about that. If I’m not in a Bulls uniform, I’ll give you a hug and say goodbye to you.”

Moments after Butler made his statement in the media room, the floodgates opened for the trade market as fellow Olympian DeMarcus Cousins was traded from the Sacramento Kings to the New Orleans Pelicans for what seemed to be mere fodder, pennies on the dollar for the most talented center in the NBA.

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While Cousins is far more of a handful than Butler could be, the trade almost signals a consistent truth that always bears repeating—that short of a select few, anybody can be traded.

Even a franchise altering talent like Cousins, who was traded to the city he was physically in for All-Star weekend, and included in the package of players was a guy who hit him in the groin last week (Buddy Hield), resulting in a Cousins outburst and ejection.

Butler has made his name with the Bulls, although not necessarily on the All-Star stage, a player who values defense and doesn’t have as much flash as some of the game’s shinier players.

With a six-point outing in 20 minutes, Butler was an on-court afterthought despite being a starter for the first time.

“Six? Should’ve gone for eight,” he sarcastically deadpanned.

In a relatively jovial mood through the weekend, Butler joked about the talk surrounding him and tried to brush it off as mere chatter as opposed to the franchise not seeing enough in him to make a firm commitment for the long-term, as the Boston Celtics are always hovering.

League sources expect the Celtics to engage the Bulls in conversations for the next few days, but nobody has a great feel for what either side is truly looking for.

But as Butler insisted, he’s only controlling what he can control, which is making himself a fixture for All-Star games to come as opposed to some of the first-timers who don’t know if they’ll get back here again.

“I think I got two underneath my belt,” Butler said. “I know what they’re feeling the first time, It’s so surreal like maybe I do belong here. That’s how I was thinking. Now it’s how do I get here every year? I think that’s the fun part, that’s the challenge. A lot of those guys have done it 10-plus years, hopefully I’m one.”

The only question seems to be, which uniform will it be in because the crazy season has begun.