New York Knicks forward Taj Gibson was emotional after the team’s Game 2 win over the Atlanta Hawks Wednesday night.
Gibson, who scored six points and grabbed seven rebounds in the 101-92 win, recalled to reporters everything he, Derrick Rose and Tom Thibodeau had been through over the last few years to finally get back into a place where they feel like they can compete for an NBA title.
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“It’s so surreal,” Gibson said. “Like I tell the young guys, who wake up and they may not know where the path’s gonna lead them, where the game’s gonna take them, just trust your heart. Don’t worry about what nobody’s gonna say, because I sat years ago as a rookie or maybe my second year, every day with Thibs after practice talking about the Knicks, we talked about the battles, we talked about how great it would be to play them one day.
“And then for it to come true, then I’m playing with Derrick, who I’ve been playing with my whole career. And we have the same familiar faces, but now we’re in New York City, God doesn’t make many mistakes, man. You just got to follow your path. You gotta believe in yourself. Stay the course. The course is always going to be rocky. But you just gotta stay the course and believe in yourself.
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“This is some magical stuff right now. I don’t know how to explain it. I don’t take anything for granted, but every day I come in, it’s just surreal.”
Gibson, Rose and Thibodeau were all together for some of the best years the Chicago Bulls had since the Michael Jordan era. But Rose’s devastating knee injury changed the trajectory of his career and the franchise.
Thibodeau was out after the 2014-15 season. Rose would leave the following year and Gibson was traded from the Bulls in 2017.
The 2020-21 season was a bit of a match made in heaven for all three guys. Gibson re-signed with the Knicks in the offseason with Thibodeau coming on to be the head coach. Rose was then traded to the Knicks in February. Since February, the Knicks were 32-19 and managed to snag the No. 4 seed in the playoffs.
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On Wednesday, the Knicks picked up their first playoff win since 2013.