CHICAGO, IL - MAY 15: Taj Gibson #22 of the Chicago Bulls dunks against Dwyane Wade #3 of the Miami Heat in Game One of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs on May 15, 2011 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Rumor has it that Bulls forward Taj Gibson can scale tall buildings in a single bound. Miami Heat superstar Dwyane Wade counts as a tall building, right?
In Sunday's opener of the Eastern Conference finals, Gibson jumped into the national basketball consciousness with not one, but two monster dunks. First, he poked a hole in the Heat's vaunted defense with a posterizing dunk over Wade. Later, he put back a missed Kyle Korver three-pointer that put an exclamation point on the win and caused his teammates on the bench to erupt in celebration.
The player who cheered the loudest? Derrick Rose. The Bulls' Bench Mob is used to cheering for Rose, so it was a sweet moment for him to get to return the favor. Gibson stepping up in key moment is also the kind of performance that the Bulls will need to win a championship. He didn't break any scoring records in the game, finishing with nine points, seven rebounds and two assists, but he made statements when his team needed statements to be made.
No team can win a championship without a deep bench. The NBA finals are long and drawn out, and that's after a long and drawn out season. Rose's performance throughout the playoffs befits the MVP award that he was given, but it's much easier for him to complete the improbable when he knows his teammates will do the little things right.
Little things like two dunks that made Chicagoans stand up and cheer.