Fresh ink: Johnson and Gibson

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Jim O’Donnell of the Chicago Sun-Times: “Chicago, meet your James Johnson. His pedigree is more sociologically exotic than street. He appears more mobile than menacing. It is his feet of fury rather than his fists that interest the Rose-rage Bulls and their re-energized fandom now. Johnson — the team’s top draft pick — met the local media for the first time Monday, joining fellow first-rounder Taj Gibson of USC and general manager Gar Forman at the United Center. Johnson is the dashing forward/martial-arts ace most recently of Wake Forest by way of a keenly competitive African-American/Samoan family that hangs its black belts and kick-sass trophies in Cheyenne, Wyo. If the projections of Forman and team master John Paxson prove correct, he may one day supercede the late Curt Gowdy as the most famous basketball star the rodeo-and-rails town has ever produced.”

K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: “Seemingly every time Taj Gibson boarded the elevator at the downtown Chicago hotel where the NBA staged its predraft camp in late May, James Johnson’s smile greeted him. Little did Gibson know the same smile would be flashing next to him from a United Center dais Monday morning, when the Bulls unveiled their new draft picks at a news conference. ‘He’s a funny guy, and I’ve already grown close to him,’ Gibson said. ‘I like the way he carries himself. I look forward to working with him.’ Work seemed the operative word as both Johnson and Gibson talked like benchwarmers rather than first-round picks poised to sign guaranteed two-year contracts. ‘I’m going to come in early, get situated, work on my game a lot more,’ Johnson said. ‘Hopefully, I’m blessed to get in the rotation. If not, I’m going to be a great practice player.’ Said Gibson: ‘It’s all about working to help win games. I’ve always been the type of player who can fill a need for a team.'”

Mike McGraw of the Daily Herald: NBA teams love to draft young players with sizable upside. But maturity also can be a helpful characteristic. Six-foot-10 Forward Taj Gibson, chosen by the Bulls with the 26th pick of the first round, fits the older-and-wiser label. Even after spending just three years at USC, Gibson is 24, which makes him 14 months older than new teammate Tyrus Thomas, who is headed into his fourth NBA season. One might suspect bad grades as a reason it took Gibson a few years to get through high school, but that wasn’t the case. Growing up in Brooklyn, Gibson attended a local school through eighth grade. When it came time for high school, his parents, Sharon and Wilbert, didn’t like the options and he was home-schooled for two years. ‘The gangs were real heavy,’ Gibson said. ‘I was supposed to go to a school that was real far from my home, in a bad area. My mom basically just saw my friends get in a lot of trouble, fighting, getting locked up. They basically told me, ‘We’re not sending you to that school.'”

Nick Hut of the Northwest Herald: “The Bulls welcomed James Johnson and Taj Gibson to town Monday with a news conference at the United Center. The event did not feel like the tip-off to a new era, as did last year’s introduction of Derrick Rose, but everyone seemed excited for what lies ahead. Neither rookie has to be a star for this year’s draft to be considered a success, but both will be expected to make quick contributions. ‘We were looking for guys who would be ready sooner rather than later,’ general manager Gar Forman said. ‘There’s still going to be an adjustment period.’ Johnson and Gibson, both forwards, probably will have the luxury of a longer adjustment period if the Bulls head into the season with their roster mostly intact. If the only change is, say, losing Ben Gordon to free agency, the Bulls would have a deep frontcourt. The two rookies could be spot players. If the Bulls decide to shake things up with a trade involving, hypothetically, Tyrus Thomas or Luol Deng, then Johnson and Gibson could be called on more rapidly.”

Andrew Seligman of the Associated Press: “James Johnson played point guard in high school and he’s aware that a legendary forward who helped the Chicago Bulls win six championships did the same thing. No one needed to tell him about Scottie Pippen. Taj Gibson doesn’t need a refresher, either. The Bulls’ two draft picks have a good grasp of team history. They could hardly contain their excitement Monday when they saw their images on the scoreboard above the court where Michael Jordan and Pippen used to play. Johnson is a 6-foot-9 forward from Wake Forest and the 16th pick in the draft. Gibson was taken with the 26th pick and the 6-foot-9 forward from Southern Cal got a few lessons from former Trojans coach Tim Floyd. He says the two talked about the Bulls a lot.”

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7 Responses to Fresh ink: Johnson and Gibson

    Dbow Queen City June 30, 2009 at 9:47 pm #

    Get rid of Deng and Tyrus Thomas (sorry Ty), and play these guys ASAP. They both will bring great skills to our team.

  2. david g July 1, 2009 at 12:54 am #

    i like these guys. they have a “team first” attitude. lets keep this team together and sign a star next year, if we don’t see improvement. as many heart attacks gordon has caused, i’m starting to think we should re-sign him and keep this team going on the track they’re headed in. we need that killer shooter, and now we have a nice group of defenders to pick up after him.

    with free agents, im really just interested in wade and amare. wade would continue to bloom for his hometown, and amare might finally find a home that appreciates him.

    lebron would be cool too, but the bulls are too cheap to touch that.

    Reggie Oliver July 1, 2009 at 1:25 am #

    I don’t agree with that choice entirely say goodby to deng and gibson and try to get hedo

  4. JJN July 1, 2009 at 10:01 pm #

    tyrus and get rid of deng and bring in jonhson to the line up… bulls r very cheap 2!

  5. 9543'
    bob July 2, 2009 at 10:17 pm #

    the bulls have a lot of players that we need to get rid of and we them for a stronge shooting guard and still play both of are rookies and move ty up to center because he is a big guy that like’s to year wade will be a free agant could get rid of some players and give him some big case.let’s face it he kicked are but’s last year.


  6. frank July 6, 2009 at 11:12 pm #

    what are you smoking? get rid o f thomas and deng? why dont the lakers just get rid of gasol and odom! thats a stupid comment!

  7. frank July 6, 2009 at 11:15 pm #

    starting line up rose heinrich deng thomas and noah

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