Carlos Boozer longs for banner that would silence fickle Bulls fans
BY JOE COWLEY email@example.com October 8, 2012 8:50PM
Chicago Bulls forward Carlos Boozer celebrates with forward Luol Deng after scoring a basket. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Updated: November 10, 2012 6:19AM
There is a place where Carlos Boozer could find redemption.
A place he could find some sort of atonement.
The Bulls power forward slowly raised his tattooed right arm upward, pointing his finger into the darkness of the United Center rafters.
“Right up there,’’ Boozer insisted on Monday. “You put [a championship banner] up there … the biggest thing is wins, that’s what it all comes down to. Honestly. It comes down to wins and losses, everything else is water under the bridge. We win? Man, if we win, we’re going to party for a long time.’’
Yes, the team has had injuries the last two seasons, none bigger than when Derrick Rose tore his left ACL in the first game of the playoffs last year. Different faces, different injuries. The one constant in the underachieving, however? The 6-9, 266-pound scapegoat that is Boozer.
Not explosive enough, not defensive enough, not a finisher. Definitely not the player he was in Utah when the Bulls signed him as the consolation prize for missing out on LeBron James three summers ago.
In three of his six seasons with the Jazz, Boozer averaged at least 20 points and 10 rebounds. In his first year with the Bulls, his numbers were 17.5 and 9.6, followed by last season’s 15 points and 8.5 rebounds.
Add in that Boozer will be the 24th highest-paid player in the Association at $15 million, and is owed $15.3 million next season and $16.8 million in the 2014-15, and it’s no wonder that the chant of “Boooooooze’’ from the hometown fans has far too often turned to boos.
“People look at it from the wrong perspective,’’ Boozer said. “This isn’t Utah, and this isn’t just a team with me and [former Jazz point guard] Deron Williams on it. We’re playing with five scorers here, so your touches aren’t going to be the same, your looks aren’t going to be the same. It’s a different system.
“All the people should worry about is if we win. Criticize me if we lose, but if we win, just praise us.’’
The concern is that praise might not be coming this season, either.
The perfect scenario in Boozer’s eyes is that this group can hold the fort until Rose returns, and the Bulls can go into a playoff run healthy.
“Completely healthy,’’ he corrected himself.
“Like any good team, you put any contender and they lose a big piece, and then lose another big piece a few games later, they’re not going to win a championship, either,’’ Boozer said. “You can’t cry over that. Your opponent isn’t going to feel sorry for you. It’s tough to win when you lose your best player and then your center, even if it is in the first round against a Philadelphia 76ers team.
“This team was built for one goal a few years ago, and we just have to stay healthy to go after that goal.’’
Boozer reported for training camp in the best shape he has been in since the Bulls signed him, spending a good part of his summer bike riding.
His reality is that fans don’t care what kind of shape he’s in or what his goals are. Those rafters stay dusty? He knows where the majority of the finger-pointing will be directed.
“I haven’t won a championship in the NBA, but winning — winning cures all, man,’’ Boozer added. “Cures it all.’’