There’s something about Carlos Boozer and strange, ugly breakups, and there’s something about Salt Lake City and strange, ugly breakups, and now they get each other in a collision course of histories and emotions.

Bulls vs. Jazz, EnergySolutions Arena, tonight. BYO Ear Plugs.

Boozer, in his first game back since signing a free-agent deal in Chicago, is going to get blasted. He is going to get blasted in a way that may rival, if not surpass, the verbal rainstorms routinely unleashed on Derek Fisher, and that’s saying something considering taunts directed at Fisher set new standards for classless. It’s moments like fans putting a hand over an eye — to mock him for asking to be let out of a contract in 2007 to live in the same city where his daughter could get treatment for a serious eye ailment, then signing with the rival Lakers — that has some around the league rating Utah’s atmosphere as the ugliest in the league.

Fisher isn’t the only Jazz-turned-Laker to get some venom from the SLC crowd. In 2004, then-Lakers power forward Karl Malone, who won two MVPs with the Jazz, was the focus of an in-game skit that earned the Jazz a $15,000 fine from the NBA.

Jazz backers feel Fisher used his daughter’s sickness to get out of his deal just to rejoin the Lakers. But Boozer completed his contract and performed at a high level.

He averaged 19.5 points and 11.2 points in 2009-10 and 19.7 and 13.2, respectively, in the playoffs. He was All-NBA third team in 2007-08, made two All-Star teams and was on the 2008 Olympic “Redeem Team” as a member of the Jazz. Through all the complaints that he was soft and took the slow lane back to the lineup after an injury, he played at least 74 games three of the last four campaigns, including 78 last season. He didn’t bail on anybody.

He never made a great connection in Utah, though, even in good times. A lot of people read him as insincere and rooted for his departure last summer in favor of keeping drama-less Paul Millsap at power forward. They were understandably angered when Boozer flirted with the Heat in previous offseasons, clearly hoping for a trade. Deron Williams openly waved his potential free-agent exit when he was upset, and he didn’t get the same negative reaction.

Plus, it’s Carlos Boozer. He showed up in 2004 under bad circumstances, after the Cavaliers felt double-crossed when they allowed Boozer to become a free agent with the expectation he would quickly re-sign with a large raise, only to have him spring to the Jazz. It’s why he got booed hard back in Cleveland. Maybe Utah fans were never able to trust him because of how he got there in the first place.

Tonight will be interesting for reasons that have nothing to do with the game itself. It won’t be as filled with tension as when LeBron James returned to Cleveland, but Boozer back in EnergySolutions Arena will have venom and noise.

Of course it will. It’s Boozer and it’s Salt Lake City.


  1. free game hacks…

    […]Booooooooo(zer) « | Hang Time Blog[…]…

  2. Amused says:

    How terribly significant all of this Utah venom is. The Jazz have only Williams, will only just make the playoffs, and will then get knocked out, as usual, by the Spurs, Lakers, or some other team. As for Chicago, sure, they’re third in the East, but they could never get past the Celtics or Heat. Keep working on it, guys.

    • Not True says:

      As a die-hard Bulls fan, I have to point out that you are incorrect, Chicago beat the Celtics in January 90-79 without Joakim Noah, an outstanding center, and they also beat the Heat the next week, without the star center once again, this year, Chicago is great, and really has a shot at the title.

  3. Levi says:

    being in Utah, i’m all for global climate change. Maybe we can get some palm trees and bikini babes driving ferraris so the front office has something to offer besides basketball.

    If players left teams and went and played for Indiana, then we’d be on the right track.

  4. […] Bulls, Quickies, Utah Jazz on Feb 09, 2011 “It’s all Boooooooooooz to me.” — Carlos Boozer, on what he expects during his return to Utah(via PBT) No Comments Previous post TBJ positional […]

  5. Alex says:

    I’ve honestly never hated Fisher. I’ve never booed him for leaving my team. Players do what their going to do, and I respect that. Fisher probably would have hit the road as soon as the contract ended anyways.
    I will be at tonights game up in the nosebleed section. I will not boo boozer because he doesn’t deserve it. I won’t cheer for him either, but I’m certainly not going to hate him for moving on. Not everyone can be your John Stockton that stays with the same team their whole career. Not even Karl did that.
    Go Jazz!

  6. Jase says:

    I, for one, would cheer Boozer at the game. I think Boozer did more for the Jazz by leaving than he did while he played for us. Boozer helped out the team a lot in the regular season, but the Lakers bigs just gave him too much trouble. I think that if he would have stayed with the Jazz, the Lakers would have swept us again. I think what I like most about Jefferson is that he is not Boozer. If Boozer does get booed I think it will be for when he gets away with another offensive foul or a loose ball foul when rebounding. I hope to see Boozer trying to defend Deron in a pick and roll. 🙂

  7. Ben says:

    This comparison between Boozer and Fisher is garbage. First, Jazz management is first class by letting a guy out of a contractual obligation with the team. The day when this was announced, Fisher stood up and told the Utah fans that he asked to be released so he could relocate somewhere closer to where his daughter was being treated….on the EAST coast. Yeah, he missed playoff games (or parts of them) because of the commute back and forth from the EAST coast. Just a few days later after being released from the Jazz, the announcement comes that he is going to the Lakers….which happens to be on the WEST coast and FURTHER away than Salt Lake City is from where his daughter was getting treatment. It was also well publicized that Fisher didn’t want to come to Utah when he was traded here because he and his family like California and were comfortable there. Shady. Very Shady. I’m not condoning the taunting of a little girl, but the girls that wore shirts in the front row that said “Fisher Lied” that got so much press is true. He said one thing, then did another.

    As for Boozer, the guy played 2 out of every 3 games because of injury and his injuries took longer than average to heal for each respective injury. He never liked Utah and is a money chaser. He is a “me first” guy, not a “team first” guy. That turned off a lot of Jazz fans. I’m ok if Jazz fans boo, but I don’t think anyone in SLC is bitter about him leaving….more relieved (the tripping over the bag and breaking hand incident this year….classic Carlos Boozer).

    Two different situations. Fisher = liar and deceived Utah Jazz organization and fans into thinking this was about his daughter. Boozer = money chaser with talent.

  8. JamesP says:

    i understand that people think jazz fans are classless generally, because they’re a bunch of sober elitist white mormons. they think they’re better than everybody else outside of the basketball court, and that arrogance carries over to fans sitting at ESA. and, in case you’re wondering, i am in fact from a mormon family in salt lake city (credibility!).

    but what i don’t get is people calling them classless for booing fisher. nobody in salt lake is mocking him for getting out of his contract or getting treatment for his daughter. he gets booed because he lied. he lied to the fans, he lied to the media, he lied to his teammates, and he lied to larry h. miller. he lied when he told everybody he wanted out of his contract to BE CLOSER TO NEW YORK because that’s where tatum was receiving her cancer treatments. he could have moved to any other team in the country, save the clippers, warriors, blazers, or suns, and have been closer to new york. there would have been considerably less hard feelings had he wound up in denver because colorado is, after all, closer to new york.

    but that’s not what happened, within hours, word was on the street that he had moved back in with kobe. i don’t know if the writers, ESPN/TNT commentators, or lakers players/coaches know this, but los angeles is actually a LONGER distance from new york than salt lake city is.

    jazz fans, while elitist, egocentric, racist, xenophobic, and generally assholes, don’t deserve to be called classless for booing somebody who lied to them, and to you.

  9. Josh Cook says:

    I’m an avid Jazz fan, and I know we have a lot of ignorant fans. I had no ill feelings toward Fisher going back to LA. Though the Jazz front office does good work, they seem to make choices that generate mediocrity. Never making choices geared toward winning championships. So if Fisher left because he wanted to win, then we shouldn’t blame him. We should blame management. If Greg Miller and Kevin O Conor conitnue to base the future of the Jazz on winning just enough to please the general fan base, Deron Williams will leave after next season. It is ignorant to think that a player owes a sort of loyalty to a specific city. Lebron didn’t owe anything to Cleveland, Fisher didn’t owe anything to Utah. Besides, Fisher only played very briefly in Utah, if anything he was a traitor to LA. Utah does have a lot of classless fans. Just be fare, and not judge the whole fan base on a small group.

  10. Kevin says:

    I don’t appreciate Scott Cooper leaving out the details of Jazz History in order to try to prove his ridiculous point! They did that to Karl Malone, cause he left on HORRIBLE terms. The man said he wanted to only play with John Stockton, so then he goes to the Lakers?? Then Fisher was full of it when he said he wanted to be closer to the hospital in New York and then moved to the West? And Scott Cooper tries to make it seem like Jazz fans are just jerks? Call me crazy, but I do not respect a lying athlete that has no loyalty to their team while they wear the jersey! People should NEVER mock Fisher’s daughter in that way. I can hardly believe people would actually do that. But they have every right to mock Derek Fisher! I hope Boozer finds what he’s looking for in Chicago, but until he learns that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, I don’t think he’ll be happy anywhere. Shame on Scott for leaving out details in order to mold the history to fit his story. You (Scott) give the media a bad name!

  11. + + says:

    I thought Fisher has the choice of NY or LA anyways…I like Jefferson than Boozer matching up against the la bigs. Jefferson should play the PF and play it like stackton and malone with Deron Williams then boost milsap or miles to play hornacek or find the missing hornacek in their line up to reive the Jazz spirit

  12. Sarkies says:

    Plus, I’m mostly looking forward to the 2 best point guards, Rose and Williams, to have a great battle against each other. I mean, the best pg in the east and the best pg in the west having a game against each other that seems to be the second most emotional of the season!!!!! This is one I have been waiting for.

  13. Sarkies says:

    I’m a Chicago Bulls fan but what’s funny about that is my second favorite team is the Utah Jazz. I’m looking forward to this game because it is Boozer’s return. I don’t think it is such a big deal that Boozer left though. I’m not saying that because my team is the Bulls. I’m saying it because some players want and feel different than some people think. When Jordan left, I didn’t hate him. I watched the guy win 6 championships with my team then just leave. I didn’t hate him. Nobody did. We knew he wanted to try to play with another team and couldn’t make him stay. Maybe Boozer left for the money. Maybe he left for a new lifestyle and environment. Maybe he left because he felt Chicago is where his ring is waiting for him. Regardless, he left and it’s a decision that us as Utah fans will have to live with. I mean, Al Jefferson is a beast and Millsap is having a great year. Plus, the Jazz are still hitting playoffs. I think this decision was the best for both teams. Both teams are doing great this season and it makes me happy to see both of my teams doing good. I think tonight’s game is going to be one for the record books of this season. I just hope my Bulls come out on top :p Haha! But win or lose, this will be a great game.

  14. DaHolby says:

    It’s no surprise that the best fans in the NBA could also be the worst. As a Jazz fan I would couldn’t imagine covering one eye mocking Fisher like that. Yeah saying that you’re going to move to NY to be closer to your daughter then signing with LA (Which is on the other side of the country by the way Fisher… Just making sure you knew that…) is a little cold, and actually shows your complete disregard for your daughter. Putting basketball and winning ABOVE your family. I still would never target a poor little girl. I couldn’t imagine my little girl getting sick. But my point is. That Jazz fans are emotionally involved with this team. It’s the only professional sports team in Utah. And it brings a lot of excitement to this state and puts Utah up on the map a little better. (Where’s Wyoming anyway?) When you look at how many games Booze missed last season and all the seasons before that, it does make you a little upset that he didn’t think we were important enough to play 100% for. Where as Deron Williams throwing down 20+ points with a sprained wrist. What a player! He will forever be my favorite player, not only for his abilities, but for his character. Booze is just a memory, and shadow.

  15. Tyler says:

    As a Jazz fan, I don’t think you can compare this to fisher. Boozer left, and we knew he was going to leave a year in advance. No surprises there. Fisher left right after a run to the western conference finals. And LA is not anywhere near where his daughter was recieving treatment in NY. Just a little harder to swallow. Did fish whant to be near a hospital or near kobe and chanpionships. Anyways, I wish boozer the best. He gave some great years, but ultimately wanted more money and a bigger market. GO JAZZ, beat chicago tonight.

  16. CASEY says:

    I am an avid utah fan and from what I heard with fisher is that he wanted to go to New York where his daughter was getting treatment and he took advantage of Larry Millers good heart and got out of his contract only to go to LA he lied to go back to LA that is classless. As for Boozer I never was a tru fan because he never showed Utah any loyalty, flirting with other teams on off season, I dont hate him but I want Big Al to crush him tonight! As for Kyle and Ronnie Brewer, I miss both of them and wish them well I would take them back in a second because they wanted to be here and they are humble hard working players

  17. Joel says:

    As a Utah fan, I’m embarrassed when the crowd acts this way toward ex-Jazzmen. I understand the sentiment when Fisher left, though not the incredibly offensive actions of some fans, because we were very emotionally invested in him. In the case of Boozer, however, the fans really felt that he wasn’t quite giving 100% in his performances, so we never got so attached to him emotionally. When he left, I thought it would be best for everyone in the long run. I really don’t see any reason to boo him—it was a mutual breakup. I wish him well in Chicago.

  18. […] The most obvious example was Derek Fisher, where Jazz fans felt he used his daughter’s eye condition to get out of a contract so he could return to the Lakers. Fans booed him and as covered one eye with their hands, Scott Howard-Cooper reminded us at […]