When it comes to Bulls injuries, the two names given the most attention are Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah. But Taj Gibson has been pretty banged up too, missing 20 games throughout last season after injuring and reinjuring his left ankle several times. He had surgery in June, and was ruled out up to four months, but not many details were given about the injury until Saturday, when Gibson spoke to reporters at his basketball camp. Apparently, it was pretty bad.
From the Chicago Tribune‘s K.C. Johnson:
“When (the doctor) finally went in during surgery, he was astounded how I was able to still play,” Gibson said Saturday morning. “He said he never knew anybody who could play through so much pain. I just thought it was normal. He was surprised I was even able to run or lift off it. That’s how bad it was. But he did a great job. I was just blessed. The way they were all talking during the surgery and after the rehab, I’m lucky and optimistic.”
Speaking at The Citi Taj Gibson Basketball ProCamp at Deerfield’s Joy of the Game, Gibson said he wants to start training camp in late September but that doctors, trainers and Bulls coaches and executives are preaching a cautious approach. Gibson said he is running and cutting and mostly performing one-on-one basketball drills.
“The crazy part about it is (executive vice president) John Paxson came into the training camp and showed me the same exact surgery,” Gibson said. “It was like they tighten and really reconstructed the ligament. The ligament was completely torn off. So far, it’s been stiff and really tight. I really can’t turn it. Plus, I wear a better ankle support now.
“The whole point is getting it stronger. The doctors said with more reps and running, it will get stronger. I’ve been doing mostly one-on-one and cutting off it. They’ve been slowing my progress. They don’t want me to rush. I’m in good shape but I’m doing what the doctor tells me to do. The doctor told I’m ahead of schedule. But he wants me to still be cautious and take my time.”
It’s not a surprise that Gibson played through the injury. He admitted in February that he had been playing through a torn thumb ligament as well. There’s a reason he was a favorite of former Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau: he always played through injuries.
Now, Thibodeau is gone and new coach Fred Hoiberg is preaching patience with Gibson’s return, which is for the best. Given Noah’s own injury issues and Pau Gasol‘s age, Gibson is going to be an important contributor for the Bulls this season. They need him as healthy as possible.