Best Norm Van Lier-like Effort

Taj Gibson

Critics' Picks

Norm Van Lier is the second-greatest Bulls guard of all time, a player who gave maximum energy on both ends of the court. And while there are plenty of like-minded players from this year's team—Joakim Noah, Jimmy Butler, Kirk Hinrich—I'm singling out Taj Gibson for his stifling defense, thunderous dunks, surprisingly good midrange jumper, and all-out hustle. (Not too bad for the 26th pick in the 2009 draft.) After Derrick Rose went down with another knee injury, fans and sportswriters expected the team to fall apart. But in part thanks to Gibson, they stuck together long enough to make the playoffs, where, sigh, the Wizards knocked them out in five. I'm starting to hate the Wizards almost as much as the Heat at this point. Still, let's face it: we need more than heart to win a championship. Perhaps next year's candidates for this august honor will include a healthy Mr. Rose and a scorer like, oh, Carmelo Anthony.