Carlos Boozer One-on-One
SLAM sits down with the new member of the Bulls.
by Bryan Crawford / @_BryanCrawford
I’m never one to let a good story go to waste, and this one is as good as it gets.
I’m on Twitter Monday morning scrolling through my timeline and I noticed that one of my followers who works for Nike tweeted her email address to someone. Up to this point I’d never talked to this person even though I was aware she was following me. But for some reason, I decided to Google her name just to see if anything came up. And lo and behold, something did.
As it turns out, she’s a PR person for Nike in Chicago. I emailed her and mentioned that I had a friend who worked in the same office as she did and that I wrote for SLAM. I told her that while I do write about the NBA in general, I specifically write about the Bulls during basketball season and I offered to cover any Nike-related events whenever they have them in the city.
To my surprise, she emailed me back almost immediately and told me that my timing couldn’t have been more perfect since there was an event going on mid-week. She told me that someone would contact me later with the full details.
That afternoon I received an email from someone formally inviting me to attend an event at Foot Locker’s House of Hoops store in downtown Chicago which was to feature Taj Gibson and newly signed Chicago Bulls PF, Carlos Boozer. I would find out later that not only were Taj and Booz going to be there, but Jannero Pargo and Shannon Brown of the Los Angeles Lakers would be in attendance as well.
Who said Twitter was stupid? If you use it the right way, it’s the greatest thing ever. This story is certainly proof of that.
So shout out to the people at Nike who always take care of me and to the people at Foot Locker’s House of Hoops on State and Adams in the Loop who were great as well. If you’re from Chicago or just in town visiting, if you have time, go and check them out. I’ve been in the back of the store and trust me; they’ve got everything you need.
The first time I met Carlos Boozer was last season when the Jazz were in town to play the Bulls. I’ve written many times about my friend who’s very high up the food-chain at Nike on the basketball side, and he and Booz are very good friends. After the game, the three of us stood around talking, sharing a few laughs, and I could tell that Carlos was genuinely a good dude.
When I arrived at Foot Locker yesterday, I was granted access to a restricted area where my Nike friend and Carlos Boozer were (Boozer was giving an interview to a local news outlet at the time). He hooked me up with some one-on-one time with Booz that wasn’t exactly part of the plan.
When he and I sat down to chat, I didn’t expect him to remember me after six months, but he knew who I was as soon as he saw me. He said that he was terrible with names but he never forgets a face.
NBA players are notorious for giving canned, scripted answers, but if they know you, they’re a lot more engaging and it makes the interview a lot easier from both sides. So when he wasn’t telling me about the ridiculousness of Karl Malone’s old house in Utah (which he said was built on top of a mountain) and the exact replica of it that he built in Louisiana, or the big things he has planned for the city next summer (stay tuned, I’ll be bringing that to you as well), he opened up about his excitement of being in Chicago and playing for the Bulls. Oh yeah, dude is hilarious too.
SLAM: Talk to me about being in Chicago; a new team, a new environment, and a new city.
Carlos Boozer: I’m excited, man. I think the city is excited, and I think we have a team that’s going to be able to compete for a title. I think it’s something that we gotta earn; I don’t think it’s going to be given to us. Oh yeah, I love Nike. I love Foot Locker. That’s a great family combination right there. Plug that! [Laughs] But seriously, I’m really happy to be in the city, man.
SLAM: Have you had a chance to spend a lot of time here since you signed?
CB: I’ve been able to get around a little bit. I’ve gone to a couple of restaurants. I’ve got a chance to meet a couple of athletes that are here like Brian Urlacher (Chicago Bears). I hope he’s a Nike guy. [Asks] Is he? (Gets answer) Yes! Brian Urlacher, great Nike guy for the Bears! But I’m going to go out and watch some White Sox games next week maybe, so I’m looking forward to it.
SLAM: What about the Cubs?
CB: And the Cubs too. I just know the White Sox are fighting for that top spot and I know with the Cubs, Wrigley Field is historic and it’s one of those places you have to go see so I’m looking forward to going there too. And, we got the Blackhawks who just got the Stanley Cup. So I’m just trying to get embedded in the city and check out all the teams and get to know Chicago.
SLAM: You know the White Sox just signed Manny Ramirez too.
CB: Yeah, that’s a big headliner right now; I saw that the other day. So I’m looking forward to seeing him play too.
SLAM: You had a lot of options this summer in terms of where you were going to play, so why Chicago? I mean, I know [Nike rep] is here…
CB: Yeah, I basically came to Chicago because of [Nike rep]. Holla at him! Nah, honestly, I went through the process. I talked to every team and for me it seemed like Chicago was a perfect fit. I flew out here the first day and I met with the boss, Jerry Reinsdorf, John Paxson, President, and Gar Forman, GM, and I met with Coach Thibs, Tom Thibodeau, and I just loved their DNA.
SLAM: What was it exactly that you liked so much about those guys?
CB: They have a championship DNA. They have the pedigree of what they were able to do in the ’90s with Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, and they want to get back to the top echelon of winning championships and they have a good core in place to do that.
SLAM: What do you feel you can contribute to bringing a championship back to Chicago?
CB: I just think I might be one of the missing pieces in the puzzle to get us back to that championship level. For me, I’m all about winning and this seemed like the best place to come to be able to win a championship.
SLAM: What do you think about the new trend of NBA superstars joining forces to try and win a title?
CB: I think everybody has to do what’s good for them. You look at my situation, I went from a team that was really good in Utah to come to a team that had, what I felt, was more depth and more pieces for us to have a chance to win a championship. From the point guard, to the 2 guard, to the 3, with me being at the 4 and having Taj [Gibson] behind me, to the 5, and with the bench. But I think at the end of the day, nobody can win by themselves. I don’t remember the last time I saw any basketball on any level where one player won the whole thing for anybody. It’s a team sport. I joined up with guys that I thought could help me win and other guys this summer did the same thing.
SLAM: The Bulls have been missing a true low-post presence for a very long time. How does it feel to come in and be one of the most important players on the team from day one?
CB: I look forward to it. For me, it’s a great challenge to have. I think when you’re put in a position where your team needs you every night — and I’ve had that most of my life in my career playing basketball — it’s going to be great to do it here with the Chicago Bulls. This is a team that all of us grew up watching. I grew up in Alaska, and when I cut the TV on to watch an NBA game, the team I was watching was the Chicago Bulls. I remember seeing them winning championships in the ‘90s, seeing MJ jump up-and-down, so for me, I’m honored to be a part of the Chicago Bulls and I’m looking forward to this moment. Hopefully I can help bring another championship to the city.
SLAM: You’ve been in the Western Conference for a while but you’re back in the Eastern Conference now. How exciting is that for you?
CB: It’s exciting, man. The East got a lot better this summer when I think of the guys that came over here, but we have a team that can get up-and-down and also grind it out in the half-court. Now the East is known for grinding it out in the half-court and I’m looking forward to getting back to that, but we also have a team that can run because we have a lot of athletes. So I think with our team you’ll see a mix of both and I think Coach Thibs is going to do a good job of letting us run and get easy lay-ups and at the same time we’ll be a sharp enough team where we can execute down the stretch of a game and when we need a bucket or a good open shot, we’ll be able to get it done.