Taj Gibson Said Thibs Called Him At 3 AM And Asked ‘You In Shape?’ After Julius Randle Got Hurt

Tom Thibodeau is known as a coach who has his favorites. The truth is, every coach trusts guys they’ve had success with, but Thibs is particularly aggressive about bringing in vets he’s worked with in the past.

A big reason for that is, Thibs isn’t exactly everyone’s cup of tea when it comes to his coaching style. He is as demanding as it gets as an NBA coach, particularly with his expectations on defense, and it’s pretty tough for someone not wired just the right way to get dropped onto one of his teams and succeed. That’s why New York has been so deliberate with the kinds of guys they’ve gone out and acquired, with Josh Hart and Donte DiVincenzo as shining examples of players who quickly became “Thibs Guys.”

However, there is no one who embodies being a “Thibs Guy” more than Taj Gibson, who has played for Thibodeau in three different places — Chicago, Minnesota, and New York. He’s had brief stops in between each of those, but Thibs always comes calling when he needs some frontcourt depth. Gibson was out of the league for the first half of the 2023-24 season, but when Julius Randle got hurt in January, the Knicks found themselves with a need for a big man.

On a recent episode of the Club 520 Podcast with Jeff Teague, Gibson hilariously recounted seeing Randle get hurt, noting to himself there’s no way the Knicks call him, and then waking up at 3 AM to Thibs calling and asking “you in shape?” and “can you be ready tomorrow?”

The best part is Gibson explaining he was told they’d ease him in, but instead got thrown in the game immediately, which caused Teague to laugh and go “that’s Thibs!” As Teague notes, Taj is one of those guys that will always have a spot if they want it on a Thibodeau team — also admitting he is also one of Thibs’ favorites from his time in Minnesota. Gibson played 16 games for the Knicks before finishing his season with the Pistons, appearing in four games, and we’ll find out this summer if he ends up anywhere for training camp or if he’ll just have to make a decision during the 24-25 season when the inevitable Thibs call arrives.