Some people are gonna try to use this news as proof former Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau pushed his players too far. Taj Gibson admitted Saturday at his City Basketball ProCamp that he actually played through a torn ligament in his ankle during Chicago’s run to the Eastern Conference Semifinal last season.
The doctor who examined Taj was pretty surprised at his tolerance for pain, as Taj recounted to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune (subscription required). Not only that, but Taj is already way ahead of the four-month window for recovery he was given after finally having surgery on the ankle in mid-June.
“The doctor was astounded. He said he never knew anybody who could play through so much pain. I just thought it was normal,” said Gibson who sprained the ankle three times last season and has battled ankle issues in two of the last three years. “He was surprised I was even able to run or lift off it.
At the time of the surgery, the Bulls estimated Gibson would return to full basketball activity in four months. That’s mid-October. Not surprisingly, Gibson, who is running and cutting and performing one-on-one drills, is itching to beat that.
“They tightened and really reconstructed the ligament, which was completely torn off,” Gibson said. “So far, it has been stiff and really tight. I really can’t turn it. Plus, I wear a better ankle support now.
“The doctors said with more reps and running, it will get stronger. I’m in good shape. The doctor told me I’m ahead of schedule. But he doesn’t want me to rush.”
And it’s not like Taj was shirking his on-court responsibilities despite the painful tear in his ankle.
Gibson also mentioned how excited he is to play in coach Fred Holberg’s purportedly up-tempo offense. He did so without throwing his former coach under bus, too.
“Not taking anything away from [Tom Thibodeau] and the way we played. He was a great coach, taught me a lot,” said Gibson. “But moving from that kind of offense to this kind of offense is going to be exciting.”
Because reporters had to ask him about it, Gibson addressed teammate Derrick Rose and the lawsuit Rose is facing over an alleged gang rape that took place in 2013.
“I support him in any way possible,” and “I know he’s a great guy,” Gibson said, before adding “I pray for the best. He doesn’t come off like that kind of guy.”
The support for his teammate is nice, but Gibson also said “I’ve hung around him many times. But in this situation, you never really know.” And you don’t, just like you never really know what injuries a player might be battling in the playoffs after an arduous grind during the regular season. If Gibson isn’t suiting up, Bulls fans can be pretty sure it’s serious.