Taj Gibson feeling positive entering 2017

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Taj Gibson of the Bulls rebounds against the Detroit Pistons at the United Center on December 19, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

The new year can mean a new start, and that’s how Taj Gibson is approaching the dawn of 2017.

“I’m thinking that way. I’m always positive. I’m not thinking negative,” Gibson said. “I understand we’ve dropped a couple games, but it’s a new year. Just try to stay focused, stay positive. Stay in the right mindset, can’t be coming into the game with a negative aspect. There’s still time, we can still change.”

The year 2016 was an eventful one for the Bulls that saw plenty of change and plenty of news and a losing 40-46 record. Stalwarts Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol are elsewhere. And instead of rebuilding and starting over, the Bulls went and signed Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo to mixed results, with the team entering Monday’s game 16-18 and on a two-game losing streak.

But because they’re in the mediocre Eastern Conference, the Bulls are still in contention for a decent playoff spot as 2017 begins.

“Still optimistic, still knowing that we can turn the tide,” Gibson said. “The East is kind of rough right now, but we’ve got to win games. If we win games, it changes the tide, changes the attitude. So we’ve gotta win.”

As Gibson said, the East is kind of rough but some teams are separating themselves. Entering Monday, Cleveland (25-7), Toronto (23-10), Boston (20-14) and even the Hornets (19-15) were beginning to form a clear hierarchy atop the conference.

The rest of the teams leave room for the Bulls, who also have a challenging upcoming schedule with games coming up against Cleveland, Toronto and Oklahoma City.

“Every game in the league is critical. But we’ve still got time. A lot of teams still haven’t gone out west, a lot of teams have a tough schedule just like us,” Gibson said. “We’ve just got to win games, learn to take care of home court. But like I said, we’ve got to have the right mindset knowing we still have more games, still can overcome. The mood is optimistic. Still understanding what we have to do.”

Jersey retirement

When Benet Academy alum and noted White Sox fan Frank Kaminsky visited the United Center with Charlotte for an Oct. 17 preseason game, he did so wearing a Cubs jersey with BARTMAN on the back. Since then, the Cubs have become World Series champions and silenced any smack talk.

Kaminsky quipped that he retired the jersey, but only until next year.

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