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Taj Gibson playing through injuries

CHICAGO -- Chicago Bulls power forward Taj Gibson revealed after Saturday night's 112-107 win over the Phoenix Suns that he has been playing with a torn ligament in his left hand for over a month.

The veteran forward believes the injury occurred during a Jan. 19 loss against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

"I was playing with a stage 2 ligament tear in my hand," Gibson said. "It was so frustrating, but I just go out there and try to do what I can. [Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau] told me, don't try to tell about any injuries. Just go out there, just try to give your team whatever you can. And that's been my slogan: Just try to do what I can."

Gibson, who scored 12 points and grabbed four rebounds Saturday night, has drawn the ire of some fans because he hasn't been making as many high-energy plays this season as he did in the past five years. He's averaging 10.8 points and 6.8 rebounds a game this season, in line with his 9.3 points and 6.3 rebounds career averages, but he hasn't been as much of a game-changing factor as he was in the past. Now there's more of an explanation as to why that has been the case.

"It was severe," Gibson said. "[The training staff] didn't know what we could do and they put a big cast on my hand. I don't wish that on anybody. I didn't tell anybody until now, it's kind of almost healed up now but like I said, [Thibs] said never give a team any excuse, never give a team any kind of uphill or trigger point on you to try and slow your game down. That's why I always remain quiet and whatever happens, whatever criticism I take, that's what I'm going to take."

Gibson also admitted the left ankle that has caused him problems throughout the past two seasons continues to be an issue for him.

"That's never going to go away," Gibson said. "Doctors told me that's going to go away after the season is done. But I said, 'Doc, whatever it takes, just bandage me up. I'm going to get my treatment and do what I can out there on the court. No excuses. Try to help my team any way I can.'"

Thibodeau and his players sang Gibson's praises after the game. Thibodeau said Gibson has a "warrior's mentality," and center Joakim Noah called Gibson a "very, very important piece to our chances of doing something special."

Gibson praised the unity of his team and wanted to set the record straight that his mind is clear after speculation surfaced that he was unhappy about his role on this year's squad.

"It was a lot of speculation saying that he's frustrated," Gibson said. "I'm not that kind of guy, man. Whatever team I'm on, whatever teammates I got, I'm not that kind of guy. I'm team-first. Whatever the team needs, I'm going to put the team first. I've never been a guy focused on shots, I've never been a guy focused on minutes. I'm about winning and trying to win a championship. That's the main thing. It was frustrating for people to speculate that and put that in my character -- that's never been my character. I've always been a team-first guy. I would never be like that."

Gibson also acknowledged he needed to get away from Chicago during the All-Star break and take a rest from all the speculation regarding his future. Gibson's name popped up in a few trade scenarios, but the Bulls' front office, and his coaches, have always had the utmost confidence in his game and his contributions to the team.

"One thing I learned from Luol Deng," Gibson said of his former teammate. "He was a guy who had his name in trade talks just like me, all the time, all the time, and all the speculation -- 'Taj is this,' -- I just needed to get away. And Thibs, we talk all the time, he's a good coach to me, he just told me to get away, just get your body right. He said, 'I appreciate you. You're a championship-caliber [player]. You just got to keep pushing through.'"