Tuesday, March 15, 2005

My Ode to Carlos

Before I begin, let me refer you to Tom Reed's column from today, he says it a lot better than I ever could. Though I did write a story about Carlos Boozer's decision to skip Cleveland.

I became exhausted with writing about Boozer back in January, especially after he took a personal pot shot at me during the Cavaliers visit to Salt Lake. He doesn't like me, would never talk to me again if he had his druthers. So I really didn't want to waste any more of my time or my paper's ink in dealing with him. But HE just won't let it die.

His decision not to come to Cleveland for tonight's game is spineless. I don't want to hear about how he has to get treatment on his foot, the Jazz trainers and strength coaches are in Cleveland and the Cavaliers have a state of the art training room that Boozer used hundreds of times. Do you want to know who else thinks so?

The fans? Sure. The media? Of course. But how about his fellow players? You better believe it.

Nobody will say anything on the record because they all really wish the whole thing would just get over with. But trust me, the other Jazz players aren't happy he's hiding at his mansion in Salt Lake. In fact, according to what I'm told, Boozer's reputation within the Jazz locker room has been taking hits all over place.

Not only has his owner and coach questioned his heart and competitive spirit, his fellow players didn't exactly respect him after he had to meet with the team owner with his wife to clear the air. Even the owner told people he'd never had such a meeting with a player AND his wife over basketball issues. In fact, there were even some within the Jazz organization that privately ripped Boozer for firing his agent and going back to Rob Pelinka, who got Boozer the infamous deal in Utah before his agency forced him to severe ties with Boozer, after the owner bashed him. One official told some reporters off the record that it was like "he had to run back to his mommy."

Two games after the meeting, he seriously injured his foot, which is terrible, you never want to see a player get hurt. It is understandable that he can't play tonight. But what isn't is that this is the first road trip he's missed this season.

Now, listen, I think Carlos is a great player and I think he'll bounce back next year, though the Jazz will probably be trying like crazy to get rid of him this summer. I've dealt with his wife, CeCe, at length and I think she's very intelligent. But, as Tom Reed wrote, they really don't get it: when you do something just for money that's usually all there is. Being rich is great. Being rich and hated isn't as grand and being rich and not respected is another thing entirely.

I really hope he's either still in denial or all this is just an act, because he loves to just laugh the whole thing off. But from what I can gleen, and here's the worst part, Carlos doesn't know that he doesn't know.

Take care all (you, too, Carlos and CeCe),

p.s. For some non-Boozer stuff, check out my Sunday Column. I hate to admit it because I shunned it at first, but I can't stop writing about Usher. I did it again in my game story from Monday. I'm transfixed for the moment, but I'm not buying any Crunk Juice.