Carlos Boozer is a beast.
He's a two-time All-Star, a beautiful high- and low-post scorer and rebounder who, since returning from injury, has given nothing but his best effort. I really think that's true. I seriously can't believe all the anti-Boozer invective flying around these days (and given my position with a certain member of the mainstream media, I see a lot of it). Some Jazz fans are acting like they're SURPRISED Carlos can't defend. If you're one of those fans, well, welcome to 2008, Mr. or Mrs. Coma Patient. Please discard your pagers and cancel your dial-up internet service on your way out.
Anyway, I still like this Jazz team a whole lot, Carlos included. But I also don't want Boozer to pull a Cleveland on us. A friend of mine, an rabid Cavaliers fan, will never forgive him for stabbing blind owner Gordon Gund in the back, leaving LeBron in the lurch, and taking the fat stack of green to wear Jazz blue. Such a history is hard to ignore. Couple that with Carlos' decidedly un-clutch performance in this year's playoffs, and the Utah faithful are working overtime on ESPN's Trade Machine. But will Kevin O'Connor pull the trigger? Should he? And if so, when?
The Jazz's position on trades (at least publicly) has always been "We'll listen to anything at any time." The problem with that is it doesn't jive with the franchise's dedication to loyalty, longevity and solidarity. I think that sometimes fewer deals go down in SLC-town because of this apparent contradiction. I just hope the front office realizes that, as much as I like Carlos (and I do), he's got his own bottom line at heart, maybe even more so than a shot at a ring.
Then again, the dude lives in Miami in the offseason. There's a lot to be said for wanting to work where your family lives. I think that, more than anything, was behind Derek Fisher's departure. NBA players are regular people, too, especially when they have solid families. Why wouldn't you want to be able to see your family, and extended family, in a familiar environment, any time you're not on the road? Sometimes we as fans lose sight of the fact that OUR priorities (the greater good of the Utah Jazz) are not always 100% the same as our players' priorities. We'd like them to be, but it's just not gonna happen sometimes, any more than you or I would be willing to make huge sacrifices on behalf of the companies we work for.
The counterargument there is that ten million dollars a year should darn well demand a player's loyalty. But that's really no different from saying your salary, or mine, should demand my loyalty. We've all signed contracts to do the work for which we are paid. Does that mean the company owns us, body and soul, desire and spirit? Is my loyalty contained in my paycheck? It's the same thing, just on a much larger scale. Boozer's work just happens to be, let's say, much more specialized than yours or mine.
I guess I'm not trying to defend Carlos for wanting to take the benjamins, if that is what he wants. I sincerely hope he doesn't, because I still believe we have a championship roster here when everyone is clicking. But I can see how, if you're just treating basketball as a job -- just punching the clock, day in and day out -- you would do all you can to get the cushiest, best-paid, most comfortable gig possible. You'd want the job that would let you spend the greatest amount of time with your family and friends, in the place you want to live. And I guess I can't hate on anyone for that, because I'd do the same.
But if you want a title -- if that's really the thing, above all else, that you're living for -- then it's not just a job. It's a lot more. And it takes a team to get there. And that takes loyalty to something greater than your own best interests.
And that makes me wonder where the loyalties of Carlos Boozer lie. I guess we'll find out soon enough.