Dunk you very much

Turkey, presents and hoops—it's gonna be a great Christmas for Taj Gibson

  • Taj Gibson (left) and Luol Deng
Taj Gibson (left) and Luol Deng (Getty Images file )
December 22, 2011|By Georgia Garvey, RedEye

Taj Gibson might not be the Bulls' superstar, but the soft-spoken forward nevertheless offered up his fair share of highlight-reel-worthy moments in the team's postseason run last spring.

Most spectacularly, he threw down a dunk practically on top of Miami's Dwyane Wade, a slam that put him into the headlines for days. But don't expect Gibson to brag about it. Instead, he throws the credit to C.J. Watson—who passed him the ball for the big dunk—puts his head down and continues to work.

Like fans, Gibson can't wait to see what happens when the Bulls kick off their regular season Sunday in L.A. against the Lakers. RedEye caught up with the 26-year-old after a recent practice and got his feelings on the coming year, that amazing dunk and some of his favorite Christmas memories.

What's your attitude going into this year?

The same as it's always been, just come in ready to play. Help the team out in any way that I can, play 110 percent. Give it my all and leave it on the court.

Does the team ever think or talk about last year?

We really don't talk about last year. It's just a totally new, clean slate. Training camp was really great for us. Guys just came in, knew what we were all about. … It was just great for our team and we've been rolling ever since.

Has the lockout affected the Bulls?

A tad bit. It's going to affect any team, not being able to be with each other for months at a time. But since we've been together the whole of last year, and most of the same guys are back, it was just like, nothing to get back into the flow of things.

The Bleacher Report named your playoff dunk the best of the year. What do you think of it?

Really, I just thought it was a great play on behalf of C.J. [Watson] to find me coming down the lane. For me, to just be strong with the ball and finish it was great but it really should be, I should really and most people should really give more props to C.J., because being the quarterback in that game, being the point guard and being the leader, he just saw me down the lane and found me.

What are you looking forward to this season?

[I'm] just looking forward to seeing how we do on these back-to-back-to-backs. I know that it's going to be a grind. I know that we are a team that plays with a lot of focus and a lot of heart. Knowing us, [I'm] just looking forward to seeing how we can overcome.

Who's a better screamer, you, Carlos Boozer or Tom Thibodeau?

It's different yells. Like, Boozer yells like he just [goes] "Wooo!" It's hard to explain. But me, I just yell like I'm getting chased by a monster or something, like, "Ahh! Help!" But Thibs, he just has that fight, that dog bark, like, "Yeah! Yeah!'

Open presents Christmas Eve or Christmas Day?

We open them on Christmas Eve, right on Christmas Eve. Once the clock hits, that wrapping paper is finished. It's gone. Don't save any for the morning. Because come morning time, you want to get a little bit more rest in before you're able to play with your toys.

Best Christmas movie?

My favorite Christmas movie is "A Christmas Story." They play that every Christmas, it never changes. It's always like one of those movies that you just can't get over. I'm going to enjoy it until I get old.

Christmas ham or turkey?

Christmas turkey. It just has that kind of "unh" to it. I don't know. It's a traditional thing that, I don't know, it brings me good memories back. When my grandmother was alive, she used to cook it, so I always look forward to getting a Christmas turkey.

Are most of your Christmas memories of the East or West coast?

It's like half and half. I spent half New York, half California, so it's like, I got the some of the good parts of when it's sunny and it's hot and we go probably to the beach on Christmas Day. And I have the snowy days with turkey and my grandmother in New York, in Brooklyn. It's like half and half, a lot of good memories.

Cold Chicago-type Christmas or warm L.A.-type Christmas?

I kind of like the cold weather and the snow, because it kind of brings the whole atmosphere of Santa coming and snow. And being able to go out there on Christmas Eve, Christmas night, just be able to go play in the snow.

What do you like to have for a holiday meal?

Stuffing, a lot of people call it dressing. I don't know. Gotta have turkey. I like sweet potato pie, I like pumpkin pie. I don't know. I just like to be surprised. I like whoever's cooking to be spontaneous to come out and be like, "Look what I made for you guys!" Stuff like that.

THE GIBSON FILE

Height: 6 feet, 9 inches

Weight: 225 pounds

Drafted: 26th overall out of USC in 2009

Career averages (per game): 8.0 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.3 blocks

BULLS AT L.A. LAKERS

4 p.m. Sunday, ABC

ggarvey@tribune.com | @gcgarvey

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