In sports, homecomings are always special moments for athletes and coaches alike.
It's not just a chance to see how far you've come as a professional, but also a humbling reminder on where the path started.
When asked about the experience of returning to his hometown of Brooklyn tonight, when the Bulls take on the Nets; Taj Gibson says it will be "surreal."
“It’s going to be crazy because I live basically down the street from the arena,” Gibson said. “I grew up down the street, my friends and family.”
Gibson was born in Brooklyn, before moving to California in his sophomore year of high school, He is proud that the borough now has a franchise to root for once again as he grew up watching the New York Knicks.
“It’s a great thing for Brooklyn,” Gibson said. “Most of my friends work there, so it’s going to be kind of weird to be going back. At the same time, it’s a business trip.”
To avoid any further pressure in returning home, Gibson will be shortening his ticket request from 20, saying “I don’t need that much pressure there with my family being there.”
In his second start of the season in Wednesday’s win over Milwaukee, Gibson finished with 14 points, nine rebounds and 2 blocked shots filling in for Carlos Boozer, who sat with a sore right hamstring.
Without Boozer, coach Tom Thibodeau made it a point of emphasis to get Gibson post touches early and establishing the post proved to work in their benefit as they finished with a season-high 66 points in the paint.
“He did the same thing in the Magic game,” Gibson said about Thibodeau making sure he gets himself established early as he did in a win in Orlando on Jan. 2 in which he finished with a season-high 21 points.
“He told me he has confidence in my post-game. He works on it with me, I work on it with Carlos and Joakim [Noah],” he continued. “They always want me to get the ball more in the post. It’s just up to me to ask for the ball a little bit more.”
Whether he starts or returns back to his reserve role in his first trip home, Gibson plans to play with the same edge and energy that’s expected of him.
"Go out there, play my game, be aggressive, know my looks and attack the paint," Gibson said. “I’m not going to shy away. I know I can be a starter someday,” Gibson said. “Whenever I get the chance to start, I’m just going to go out there, do my job and step up for my teammates.”