Bulls

Taj Gibson on Fred Hoiberg's national critics: 'Just shut up'

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Taj Gibson on Fred Hoiberg's national critics: 'Just shut up'

It doesn’t appear Taj Gibson will play Saturday against Detroit with a fractured rib, as he didn’t go through Friday’s practice after missing Thursday’s game against the Houston Rockets.

But the ambiguity that exists surrounding his status isn’t the case when one considers his position on coach Fred Hoiberg, as Hoiberg has come under fire in recent days from national media with the playoffs looming and the Bulls dangerously close to missing the postseason for the first time since 2008.

It’s been said and written Hoiberg doesn’t have the best support from the locker room, naming Gibson as one of the parties, but Gibson disputed the notion and supported the first-year coach.

“They need to just shut up,” Gibson said. “Everybody tries to discredit this man, and it's rough. He's a rookie coach taking on a veteran group. Give him some slack, man. It's hard enough as it is to come in. You've got the whole city of Chicago on your back. It's tough. But I think he's just learning. He's learning, he's doing a good job, he's staying with us, and I'm riding with him no matter what.”

Gibson’s relationship with Hoiberg has grown as the season has progressed, which has led to Gibson being more of a vocal player in the locker room. Not one for drama, Gibson is the closest thing to an enforcer on the roster, and he’s carried the no-nonsense approach everywhere else, essentially.

“Me and him have had long talks, especially over the break, from time to time,” Gibson said. “He really cares about the players. We've got to do our part to help us get wins and do what's right for him.”

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And what’s right for Hoiberg and Gibson could be sitting out, despite the crucial nature of the contest against the Pistons, which starts a back-to-back that ends Sunday in Milwaukee.

Gibson believes he injured himself against the Sacramento Kings on March 21, but it got progressively worse as he kept playing the same way and an injury like that will keep reminding you to sit until you do.

“It affects you as far as anything — raising your hands above your head, breathing, sitting down the wrong way,” Gibson said. “It’s just tough. The whole game, you have guys poking you. That’s the hardest part. I’ve been playing with it. I’ll try to just keep going.”

He’s tried using hard casts and wraps, but nothing has truly alleviated the pain. After all, it affects his breathing, so it’s more than just basketball.

“There’s nothing you can really do,” Gibson said. “The previous couple of games I’ve been playing with it, you just have to play through it. I wish I could figure out something I could do. We tried everything. When you play down low, you’re gonna get it. It’s real physical.”

We've officially found the biggest Michael Jordan fan ever

We've officially found the biggest Michael Jordan fan ever

There are diehard Michael Jordan fans.

And then there's this guy.

Forget anybody getting a tattoo of their favorite team's championship trophy. Forget the people who wait for hours in terrible weather just to catch a glimpse of their favorite player.

This dude has a constant, 24/7 reminder of "His Airness":

Yep, that is a full tattoo of a Jordan "23" jersey on his back, complete with a Michael Jordan "autograph" in the middle of the "2." 

Dedication at its finest.

Couple questions: 

A) Does it carry over to the front at all? And if not, is that a plan for the future?

2) Will one of his buddies get a "45" Jordan jersey tattoo or are we just gonna continue to pretend that era never happened?

D) What will that tat look like in a few years? That guy better stay away from the Doritos...

Wendell Carter Jr. survives gauntlet of centers to begin career

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AP

Wendell Carter Jr. survives gauntlet of centers to begin career

Don't tell Wendell Carter Jr. the center position is a dying breed.

The 19-year-old rookie hasn't exactly been able to ease into the NBA, finding himself up against a handful of All-Stars and powerful frontcourts just five days into his career.

It culminated Monday night with a date against Mavericks center DeAndre Jordan, and once again the seventh overall pick held his own. It was much of the same as it was against Philadelphia's Joel Embiid and Detroit's Andre Drummond last week (and Nikola Jokic in the preseason finale): some good, some bad, plenty of poise and zero backing down. The NBA is unforgiving, but this could very well be the toughest stretch Carter faces all season.

"He’s playing against top level centers now," Fred Hoiberg said before Monday's game. "It’s a great experience for him. He’s going to learn and get better and he plays within himself, we will continue to look for him to be more aggressive."

He was as aggressive as the Bulls have seen him against Jordan and the Mavericks. He blew by the 20 and 18 minutes he played in the first two games of the year, totalling 32 minutes. His final line won't tell the story - 4 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and a block - of a Carter who defended well at the rim, picking and choosing his spots on when to attack shots and when to simply use his verticality.

He wasn't credited for a block but he contested a Jordan dunk that turned into a Bobby Portis dunk on the other end. Plus-minus isn't always a good indicator of a player's worth, but Carter was a +5 in a 14-point Bulls loss. He even attempted a corner 3-pointer early in the shot clock, showing no hesitation. Carter's had his moments, but it's also apparent he's got a 19-year-old body going up against veterans each night. That'll come with time in the weight room. For now the experience is 

"I appreciate the fact I’m able to play against these very talented bigs early in my career," Carter said after the loss to the Pistons. "What I need to work on is I have to get stronger; that’s the first thing I recognize; just being up against the best. I love the competition. It’s always a great feeling going against the best."

What the Bulls are finding out is they have a player mature beyond his years. As he progresses he'll continue to get more difficult assignments. He had his rookie moment late in Monday's loss, committing a turnover in the backcourt after the Bulls had cut the deficit to five with 35 seconds left. The fouls are also an issue, as Carter has committed 10 in three games (after committing 17 in five preseason games).

That doesn't necessarily seem important for a Lottery-bound team, but considering the continued struggles of Robin Lopez (and Cristiano Felicio is entirely out of the rotation) it is. Lopez had 2 points and 1 rebound in 10 minutes while committing five personal fouls. In three games he has 11 personal fouls and 11 points, and also has more turnovers (five) than rebounds (four). If the Bulls are going to compete until Lauri Markkanen returns, Carter will need to hover around the 32 minutes he played Monday.

He'll get a much easier test on Wednesday when the Charlotte Hornets arrive in town. Cody Zeller doesn't exactly have the credentials of a Jokic or Embiid, meaning Carter may have a little more room to work. 

The Bulls know they have something in Carter. It'll be abother month until they can deploy him alongside Markkanen, but if the first three games are any indication, Carter won't have any problems matching up with some of the league's best.