The Bulls' Taj Gibson throws out the first pitch at U.S. Cellular Field on Monday before the White Sox took on the Minnesota Twins.
Chicago Bulls star Taj Gibson threw out the first pitch at Monday’s Chicago White Sox game against the Minnesota Twins at U.S. Cellular Field. Afterwards Gibson spoke to reporters about the upcoming season, his contract, life without Derrick Rose and a depleted bench mob.
"The one thing about our team -- most of our core is still intact," Gibson told ESPN Chicago. "This next step is going to be big for us because we're not going to have Derrick, and it's going to be a chance for guys to develop and mature. Not knowing when Derrick is going to come back, it's going to put a lot more pressure on guys to step up and perform. We understand that. We have guys who can play big-time minutes. Now it's up to us just to perform."
As the team heads into the season with a completely rebuilt roster and as a member of the much beloved "Bench Mob," Gibson explained how weird it will be to take the floor without the reserves that helped the Bulls to the best season in the NBA two years in a row.
"I was just with Ronnie [Brewer] in New York," Gibson said. "It's crazy to think he's a New York Knick now, C.J.'s a Brooklyn Net, Omer's in Houston, Kyle is in Atlanta. It was just so crazy because our bench was so talented. With so many valuable assets, we knew across the league a lot of teams would want these guys. It's sad, but things like that happen all the time."
Finally, no conversation with Gibson can take place without speaking on the other elephant in the room.
This is a contract year for Taj and after losing Omer Asik to Houston, the Bulls have made signing Gibson to a long-term deal their top priority heading into the season. Most players would let that sort of thing affect them, but he isn’t worried about it. He’s just focused on improving and helping the team win.
"They're talking about that stuff now," Gibson said. "I'm not even thinking about that. A lot of people always talk about that all year long, all season long. I don't really worry about it. I won't really be thinking about it. I'm just going out there and playing my game."