OT: Bulls behind Gibson's 6th man bid

ATLANTA -- The Taj Gibson for Sixth Man of the Year award campaign remains in full effect within the Chicago Bulls' locker room.

After almost every game over the past few weeks, one or more players or coaches has sung Gibson's praises and discussed his merits for postseason recognition when asked. After Monday night's game against the Boston Celtics, Joakim Noah had some high praise for Gibson after the veteran forward helped pave the way for another win.

"We wouldn't be in this position right now if it wasn't for Taj," Noah said. "His improvement from when he first came into the league to now is crazy. He's just somebody who really cares about winning -- more than anyone I've ever been around. So, he really wants to win and that's his main priority, and I think he deserves [the Sixth Man award]. There's nobody that comes even close to what he brings to this team."

Noah didn't back down when asked why he felt Gibson cared more about winning than anyone else he had encountered.

"He really cares about winning," Noah said. "He's selfless. It's not about awards with him. It's not about starting. It's not about any of that. I think he's somebody who sacrifices a lot for this team so I think you can tell when he's on the court he's playing for the right reasons. He's playing for the team."

For his part, Gibson is trying to keep everything in perspective as he closes out the regular season. He has already acknowledged that the award would be a "dream come true," but he wants to focus on the task at hand.

"I try to not think about [the award]," he said. "I just go out there and play. I don't even try to talk to [teammates] about it. I'm happy we don't talk about it because I'm just focused on winning games and getting ready for playoffs. But that award ... you never can really tell who's going to win. It's always about somebody else, so I just worry about my teammates and worry about myself. I try to not think about the negatives."

What's next: The Bulls take on the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night.

The last word: Noah, a proud University of Florida alumnus, on what it's like for him to watch a game as his Gators chase another national championship:

"[I'm] just a proud alum. Like damn, those were the best times of my life. I'm watching these young guys ... I've been there. The emotions that they've been through I've felt that before and I'm really proud to have worn those colors. And it just feels good that that pride isn't going anywhere. I know one day I'll be old as hell, I'll be a grandpa, and I'll still be rooting for the Gators, so that's cool."