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SCOWLEYS: Bulls’ Taj Gibson supports Northwestern’s union effort

The Bulls’ Taj Gibsis proponent NCAA athletes receiving more than scholarship. | AP

The Bulls’ Taj Gibson is a proponent of NCAA athletes receiving more than a scholarship. | AP

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Updated: May 7, 2014 6:23AM



There is little room in Taj Gibson’s life for anything but Bulls basketball.

But even the Sixth Man of the Year candidate has been keeping an eye on the attempt of the Northwestern football team to form a union and start a change in the culture between athletes and the NCAA.

In Gibson’s opinion, not only should college athletes start receiving compensation beyond a scholarship, but it’s a system that long has been outdated.

‘‘I’m all for college players being paid because the universities are making millions and the kids sometimes don’t even have enough money to eat,’’ Gibson said. ‘‘It’s not right at all. I’m not even saying they need to be paid a lot, but give them something more. Or at least make sure that everything is taken care of.’’

The ‘‘taken care of’’ was referring to former USC running back Stafon Johnson. Gibson was friendly with Johnson back in their days with the Trojans and was horrified to hear about the weightlifting accident that almost cost Johnson his life. Back in 2009, Johnson’s larynx was crushed when a bench-press bar fell on his neck. He eventually sued the school, and the sides settled in 2012.

‘‘It was terrible news when I first heard it,’’ Gibson said. ‘‘He had to leave school because USC didn’t really pay for all of his health bills. He really had to pay his own bills, which a lot of people don’t know. That’s why I agree with Northwestern and the players talking about having full medical coverage when they are done playing.

‘‘One day, it’s going to happen. It needs to.’’

Player of the week

Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks forward: The shot clock might be ticking down on Nowitzki’s career, but he still is doing his best to keep the Mavericks in the Western Conference playoff picture. Nowitzki entered play Friday with five consecutive games of at least 19 points, including a 26-point, 11-rebound effort Thursday against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Team of the week

San Antonio Spurs: Their 19-game winning streak ended Thursday against the Oklahoma City Thunder, but the Spurs still served notice that they are the team to beat in the West.

The big five

1. Miami Heat, 2. Spurs, 3. Thunder, 4. Clippers, 5. Indiana Pacers.

Awful for Andrew

The three teams with the best odds of earning the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft and the right to select Kansas freshman Andrew Wiggins: 1. Milwaukee Bucks, 2. Philadelphia 76ers, 3. Orlando Magic.

Big number

0-4 The Spurs’ record this season against the Thunder. If there is one team that can mess with the Spurs’ team game, it’s Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Co.

Two to watch

Brooklyn Nets at Heat, 7 p.m. Tuesday: Forget all the animosity the teams have for each other. The Nets have been one of the hottest teams in the East since Jan. 1, and the Heat is playing for the No. 1 seed in the conference playoffs.

Pacers at Heat, 6:30 p.m. Friday: The Pacers are finding out it’s hard to win games and give yourself the Heimlich maneuver at the same time. This game might decide who will have the home-court advantage in the Eastern Conference finals.

Email: jcowley@suntimes.com



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