Top 50: Carlos Boozer, no. 32
The definitive ranking of the NBA’s best players.
Some people will never respect Carlos Boozer. He’s from Alaska, which is where Sarah Palin is from so… Who likes that state, anyway? He played at Duke. First off, nobody likes a devil that isn’t red, and Duke players make bad pros on principle alone. And he sued Prince. You don’t sue Prince. You accept that he painted purple hieroglyphs on your house and go about your business. He left LeBron. He could have been an all-shoulders-no-handles Pippen! The King might have actually had a ring (or two) at this point.
Forget those people, they can’t be saved. You still have a chance. You know who else is from Alaska? Mario Chalmers. He launched the harpoon that killed Moby Di- (ahem) Memphis, coached by John “habitual line-stepper” Calipari. Chalk one point to Alaska.
Now, let’s be clear on the “Duke players are garbage in the NBA” rule of basketball. Yes, it’s true as a general rule. But Carlos is clearly the “exceptio probat regulam in casibus non exceptis,” or as us non-Duke educated would say: The exception that proves the rule. He was a solid basketball player coming out of college, got no respect coming into the League (got drafted after Ryan Humphrey and Robert Archibald. Haven’t heard of those dominant, sure fire pros? My sentiments exactly), yet still became a lock for a double-double by his second year in the NBA. Let’s put a pin in that, we’ll get back to it later.
Suing Prince? That just-skimming-the-5-foot-tall-horizon, formerly known as midget needs to calm down. You don’t rent a house, then paint your own sexual symbols on it. And if that’s not acceptable, neither is a purple monogrammed carpet installed in the master bedroom with plumbing and piping added in the downstairs bedroom “for water transfer for beauty salon chairs.” (The Smoking Gun) You don’t pull that shit with the Booz’. You do that, and you will get touched.
Finally, let’s address his own personal “get the hell out of Dodge” moment. Russ Bengtson said it best:
The Cavs shredded the last year of his rookie deal and were going to sign him to a six-year, $39 million extension, hoping to lock him in long-term before he turned into a max guy. Then the Jazz stepped in with a six-year, $70 million offer, and that was that. My math isn’t too good, but that’s roughly 31 million reasons to go West. Even LeBron told him to get that money. (In hindsight, perhaps not shocking.) 2) Then-coach Paul Silas more or less told CBooz that he’d just be a role player in Cleveland. A rebounder and defender. That’s the way Boozer explained it to me the last time we spoke, and I have no reason to disbelieve him: “I was happy [Silas] told me that, because I saw what he wanted for my future. That helped ease my decision a little bit. I couldn’t wait to come to Utah and play. I hope he can see what I’m doin’ now, I’ll tell you that.”
Glad we could straighten that out.
Cut forward to 2009. Boozer is coming off a season where he only played 37 games due to a knee injury. He’s also coming off of a summer where he demanded trades and named possible suitors. The trade possibilities didn’t work out; he’s still part of the Utah Jazz. The situation isn’t resolved, money is always a big issue and things could get ugly. They could, if not for Carlos’ mentality as a basketball player.
Coach K had this to say about his player from Duke and the Olympics: “Carlos, with his teammates, was sensational. He still is. The only times that I’ve ever had to get on Carlos was to say ‘Take more shots!’ There was never a jealous bone in his body; I love coaching Carlos. I’d take him on my team anytime.”
There is no guarantee that Carlos will be the ideal teammate for the Jazz during the full season, he could always get traded during the year. Regardless, one thing can be certain; He will be playing in the rarified air of the “Contract Year.”
Boozer is going to want to get paid. You don’t want to be the guy who goes from having a second contract worth the ballpark range of 70 million clams to have his next contract be less! This is America, home of obesity, bad fundamentals and capitalism; we like our stars playing on the mantra of “the rich get richer” both literally and figuratively. The only way for him to fulfill that is to play his ass off. His last season was a short one. Thirty-seven games — or about three Gilbert Arenas seasons — are not enough. He needs to come back with that 20 and 12 fire that he had in ’07.
He has fuel for the fire, so where’s the wood? His drop-step? Still cold blooded. Even if his knees gave out, those boulder-shoulders will stay there for life, prepared for the drop-step. His stop and pop from 15? “Smooth as a cruise boat floats when I’m walking.” Even if he does release it on the way down, it’s wet. Even if the stores in Utah aren’t. Career rebounding average? 10 per game. There’s your wood.
Are there haters still reading along? Just close your eyes and repeat the following:
“Even though he went to Duke, I have to give him this: He’s got an NCAA National Championship. He’s got a gold medal from the Olympics. He’s averaged 20 and 10 for multiple seasons. He’s one of the best power forwards in the NBA.”
Just repeat that five times at breakfast in your mirror, everything will be alright.
• Rankings are based solely on projected ’09-10 performance.
• Contributors to this list include: Jake Appleman, Brett Ballantini, Russ Bengtson, Toney Blare, Shannon Booher, Myles Brown, Franklyn Calle, Gregory Dole, Emry DowningHall, Jonathan Evans, Adam Fleischer, Jeff Fox, Sherman Johnson, Aaron Kaplowitz, John Krolik, Holly MacKenzie, Ryne Nelson, Chris O’Leary, Ben Osborne, Alan Paul, Susan Price, Sam Rubenstein, Khalid Salaam, Kye Stephenson, Adam Sweeney, Vincent Thomas, Tzvi Twersky, Justin Walsh, Joey Whelan, Eric Woodyard, and Nima Zarrabi.
• Want more of the SLAMonline Top 50? Check out the archive.