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Old 11-25-10, 03:08 PM
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Lee Jenkins: Bulls' Gibson cherishes time on floor, honoring fallen friends

In the final strains of the national anthem, Taj Gibson closes his eyes, bows his head, and asks three fallen friends to come join him on the floor. "I always get teary right at the end," Gibson said. "That's how I know they've heard me." He refers to them by nicknames -- Cakes, Cookiehead and Johnny -- part of the group he grew up with in Brooklyn, who flew across the country to visit him at USC, celebrated with him the night he became a first-round draft pick, and watched him evolve into an unlikely starter as a rookie for the Bulls last season. They would leave him re-assuring post-game voicemails that he now cannot bring himself to erase.

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