Taj Gibson is right here to be a mentor and assist nurture youthful Wizards


The No. 67 jersey Taj Gibson wears has a particular that means. When the massive man selected the quantity 5 years in the past, he was the primary participant in NBA historical past to put on it. It’s an homage to his hometown — the Fort Greene neighborhood in Brooklyn, residence to P.S. 67. It has been with him by two seasons in Minnesota and three with the Knicks in New York, the place his Brooklyn accent and his No. 67 match proper in.

Now Gibson will carry slightly little bit of New York — and slightly little bit of his historical past — with him down Interstate 95.

The circumstances are completely different after the 37-year-old middle left the Knicks and agreed to a one-year deal for the veteran’s minimal exception with the Washington Wizards this month, however Gibson’s purpose as a participant stays the identical. The veteran needs to be simply that: a mentor for Washington’s steady of younger gamers.

“My function at this stage in my profession is simply at all times keep prepared however on the similar time be a terrific teammate, be a mentor,” he stated throughout a teleconference Wednesday. “I’m only a team-first man — I put the crew first, and I’m actually unselfish. I’m simply wanting ahead to being across the guys, attempting to provide forth no matter I can to assist a crew achieve success and win.”

Gibson stated it was a troublesome choice to depart his residence metropolis, the place he had an in depth relationship with Knicks Coach Tom Thibodeau, whom he additionally performed for in Chicago.

For three new Wizards players, D.C. is familiar and an opportunity

However in Washington, he felt there was a chance to assist nurture a roster nonetheless trying to find consistency. Gibson would be the Wizards’ oldest participant by greater than 5 years, and he has 13 seasons of classes to cross on. His profession began with a scorching season with the Bulls that landed him on the all-rookie first crew in 2010. He has performed for 4 organizations. He has began, come off the bench, been traded and morphed right into a locker room stalwart in his later years. He has seen how Workforce USA prepares for the Olympics as a member of the nationwide choose crew — the equal of the follow squad — earlier than the 2012 London Video games.

“What made me be part of the Wizards was … understanding they’ve plenty of expertise, understanding it’s a younger crew nonetheless attempting to determine win video games,” Gibson stated. “I felt it was an excellent alternative to go round some younger guys which might be gifted, have an opportunity to really do one thing on this league. It was a no brainer.”

As for his on-court duties, Gibson sounded clear-eyed. The 6-foot-9 huge man, behind each Daniel Gafford and Kristaps Porzingis on the depth chart, averaged four.four factors and four.four rebounds in 18.2 minutes final season. He is aware of his place isn’t to attempt to change anybody’s sport.

“Porzingis is a expertise, and also you’ve received Gafford — he’s a brilliant younger, athletic expertise I’ve been watching since Arkansas,” Gibson stated. “So simply coming round these two guys, I’m not attempting to tweak something, actually. I’m attempting to come back give that help however, on the similar time, attempt to assist them any manner I can.”

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