We've had this game circled on our schedule for some time now. Some of us are excited to see Derrick Rose match up against Deron Williams. Some are excited to see Kyle Korver play again. Some want to see the Jazz East take on the Jazz West. But let's be honest. We are all anticipating the return of Carlos Boozer. We want to see the master versus the apprentice, the jedi versus the padawan, Boozer versus Millsap.
Boozer's return has sparked a lot of discussion on the Bulls Power Forward, about his basketball skills, his leadership, and his offcourt persona. Gordon Monson unsurprisingly wrote another scathing piece about Boozer. I don't know what the percentages are, but I would guess that more than half of Jazz fans are glad to see Boozer in another teams' jersey. Personally, I am just glad that he's gone. If I were at the game tonight, I wouldn't boo him. I don't smile to myself when he gets injured or bad things happen to him. But I also don't respect him. And it did make me laugh a little when Jerry Sloan and Deron Williams wondered out loud why Jazz fans have an issue with Boozer. Let's take a walk down memory lane and discuss why Boozer doesn't appeal to most Jazz fans.
If an athlete ever wants to get on the bad side of Jazz fans, they only need to do one of 4 things.
1. Talk about wanting more money as if millions of dollars isn't enough.
2. Mention or even hint that they don't want to play in Utah.
3. Be perceived for a lack of effort.
4. Be Kobe Bryant
Just look at the three big villains in Jazz fan history: Michael Jordan, Derek Fisher, and Carlos Boozer. You can even throw Derek Harper and Rony Seikaly in for reason number 2. Michael Jordan crushed the hopes and dreams of Jazz fans, but he also bashed the city and state of Salt Lake and Utah during the finals. Badlisted. Much controversy has been made about the Derek Fisher situation. Whether he used his daughter's condition to get out of the contract or not, the Jazz made the right decision by letting him out on good faith. I applaud the Jazz front office for doing so. But the bottom line is that Fisher wanted to play for the Lakers more than he wanted to play for the Jazz. And that hurts. He'll forever be on Jazz fans bad side for this.
Carlos Boozer on the other hand, probably fits 3 of the 4 criteria.
Carlos Boozer's comment to ESPN's Chris Sheridan about opting out and getting a raise regardless were foolhardy and poorly timed, considering the fact that he was sitting the 15th straight game with an injury that would keep him out for two dozen more. But I wonder if Jazz fans would have forgiven him for that if Boozer hadn't already proven himself a money seeker. Go google "Carlos Boozer Cleveland Cavaliers contract" sometime and you'll see what I mean. If you aren't familiar with the story, the Cavaliers had a team option to retain Carlos Boozer for only $700,000. It was their choice. But they let Boozer out of his contract with what the Cavs' front office described as a verbal or handshake agreement that Boozer would resign with the Cavaliers for 5 or 6 years at the mid-level exception, or about $6 million a year. Instead Boozer signed a 6 year $66 million with the Jazz, stating that there was no agreement or commitment to the Cavaliers. Some of you might sympathize with Carlos Boozer saying, "we would all go for more money" or Boozer "took an offer that was made to him." That is fine, but the truth is that Cleveland did Boozer a financial favor and he did not return the favor. In hindsight, they should have made him play out his contract for 700 grand. Read this article and you may start to see that Boozer sold his good name for more money. He did it in Cleveland. He did it in Utah. That's not a good track record.
Secondly, Carlos Boozer went on a radio campaign, stated that the Jazz had agreed to trade him and tried to sell himself to teams like the Bulls while also mentioning his basketball camp. Every Jazz fan knew that Carlos didn't want to be in Utah 100% after the Jazz matched the offer sheet for Paul Millsap. That tends to make Jazz fans sad.
Third, Carlos Boozer has been perceived as lacking a full effort. Notice that I said perceived rather than stating that he does lack effort, but perception is truth to NBA fans. We aren't in the locker room or the gym. We can only guess at the work ethic of players. But it hurt when Boozer sat out games, especially big ones that we needed him to play. The irony is that you can overcome the other problems by busting your butt on the court. Almost all NBA players are obsessed with money and will take a more lucrative offer over another one, but we forgive them when they play hard, or when they carry our favorite teams to better results than we expected. But even if you think that Carlos Boozer is unfairly criticized for his lack of effort, you can't argue that he played harder than average for the Jazz. A good effort wasn't enough. And he really needed to do that to overcome his other badlist attributes.
So go to the ESA and boo Carlos Boozer. I won't be joining you. I am just glad that the Jazz aren't overpaying him now, so I am satisfied. But I do understand why Carlos Boozer just doesn't appeal to Jazz fans.