It’s no secret the Bulls have been lacking a certain kind of vocal leadership through this tumultuous stretch, and the team has been begging for someone to take the mantle in some way as a galvanizing force.
Enter Taj Gibson, who admitted he’d already reached his breaking point of frustration long ago. Before the Bulls’ loss to the Cavaliers on Thursday night, Gibson and teammate Pau Gasol dined together in Cleveland, discussing things, charting a course of how they want these last 30 games or so to go.
“We had dinner, we talked. Pau is a guy you talk to and you ask what you can do better, how you can help the team,” Gibson told CSNChicago.com while leaving the locker room. “Think about it: Him and Kobe (Bryant) went to dinner and hung out all the time. I’m just soaking it up.”
Teammates have said Gibson, Gasol and Derrick Rose have been more vocal through this slide, but Gasol could notice Gibson getting more frustrated with his teammates and the state of affairs.
“I took him out, bought him dinner in Cleveland,” Gasol said to CSNChicago.com “Trying to do my job as a veteran on this team, as an NBA champion, share my experience and lead in the right direction.”
Gibson has watched Joakim Noah and Nazr Mohammed take turns being the vocal player in the locker room. He admits it’s not natural but said when he saw Miami Heat All-Star Chris Bosh uncharacteristically going off on teammates in a game in Chicago last month, he could see that being himself not too long after.
“Losing so much. Seeing how Chris Bosh was cursing them out so much, during the game, ‘Get the bleep over there,'” Gibson said. “He snapped on Gerald Green for not getting somewhere. The coaching staff said, ‘He’s tired of losing! That’s how we gotta be!’”
The feeling hit him in that moment, though it took a few weeks for it to manifest itself as the Bulls dipped closer and closer back to the .500 mark, dangerously close to missing the postseason party.
“I sit there and listen to (Gasol) talk. He talks to Doug (McDermott), he talks to Bobby (Portis),” Gibson said.
E’Twaun Moore chimed in with a smile: “He talks to me.”
[SHOP BULLS: Get your Bulls gear right here]
“He talks about championships, it’s something you have to listen to. It’s important right now,” Gibson said. “I’m comfortable with it. I have no choice, I have no choice brother. I want to win, I want to win.”
Gasol has tried to keep a cool head about things, and one would have to admit the two players who’ve been on the trading block for the past week or so, bonding about the investment they feel to the locker room.
“Yeah. It has been frustrating, no question about it,” Gasol said. “When you lose so much 12 of 14 or 15, it should be. It has to hurt. But what are you gonna do about it? We’re just trying to work, continue to work, keep it together and take care of home.”
Gibson has usually been the quiet type, but with all the up and down personalities on the roster, he’s likely someone Fred Hoiberg can count on if he needs a lieutenant in the locker room.
For his part, Gibson doesn’t care about being the bad guy.
“Nope. Because they understand it and respect what I said,” Gibson said. “I’m tired of it.”