(CBS) With the Bulls receiving widespread criticism and negative attention in the wake of a national report that indicated rookie coach Fred Hoiberg has lost the locker room and that a rift persists with star Jimmy Butler, veteran forward Taj Gibson had a response to detractors of Hoiberg.
“They need to just shut up,” Gibson said Friday. “Everybody just tries to discredit this man, and it’s rough. He’s a rookie coach taking on a veteran group. Just give him some slack, man. It’s already hard enough as it is to come in, you’ve got this whole city of Chicago on your back. It’s tough, but I think he’s just learning. He’s learning. He’s doing a good job. He’s staying with us every day, and I’m riding with him no matter what. Me and him have had long talks, especially over the break, from time to time. He really cares about the players, and we’ve got to do our part to help us gets wins and do what’s right for him. At times in the NBA, it gets a little crazy and things go south, but we just got to do what’s right for him. We got to play harder for him.”
The season certainly hasn’t gone as planned for Chicago. At 38-37, the Bulls sit one game out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
To make the postseason, they could use the services of Gibson, who missed Thursday’s win at Houston with a rib fracture. Despite being officially listed as doubtful, Gibson maintained he’ll try to play in Saturday’s big game against the Pistons, who sit seventh in the East, two games ahead of the Bulls.
Gibson didn’t practice Friday. He admitted this rib fracture “takes the cake” among injuries he’s tried to play with. In the past, he’s played through ankle, hamstring and hand injuries.
Gibson traced the rib injury back to a March 21 game against Sacramento, meaning he played all or parts of six contests with it before sitting out Thursday. It then got worse when he “got rocked pretty solid” last Saturday at Orlando.
Gibson doesn’t plan to get shut down for the rest of the season.
“I don’t rule anything out,” Gibson said. “I’m getting treatment.
“Right now, we’re just trying to get the pain down a little bit more. I’m not ruling myself out in this playoff push.”
In other injury news, point guard Derrick Rose’s is also doubtful for Saturday’s game as he deals with a left elbow contusion that sidelined for the second half of Thursday’s win. Rose was receiving a “precautionary MRI” on Friday, Hoiberg said, and was “in a lot of pain” Thursday.