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.”