We’ve talked numerous times in the past about the love-hate relationship between Utah Jazz fans and Carlos Boozer. After being on their bad sides for the past year or so, Booz is slowly charming his way back into their hearts. The Jazz have rebounded from a slow start and have won six of their last eight games. Boozer has been the main reason in their resurgence averaging 23.8 ppg and 10.8 rpg in their winning streak.
Over the years, Boozer has infuriated fans with his inconsistent play and his constant injuries. His popularity in the state of Utah reached an all-time low over the summer when he stated the organization agreed to trade him to the Bulls or Heat. The team denied such an arrangement was made. It also didn’t help when he didn’t opt out of his contract.
“It was really ugly at the start of the season,” says Allan Martindale, a 13-year Jazz season ticket holder. “They booed him every time he touched the ball for the first game or two. After that they booed him after every mistake he made, no matter how small. There was one game I remember when he missed his first shot and the crowd went crazy. It was a good look, he was wide open, it was just a little off the mark. That didn’t matter, though.”
Ever since he reported into training camp, Boozer has done his part to not fuel the fire. Whether he’s getting good advice from his PR team or he just practicing common sense, Carlos has been able to douse the fire he started by keeping his mouth shut and remaining positive.
On the court, he has started to pick it up as well. Just like the Jazz, he started off the season slowly, showing his usual flashes of inconsistency. But in the past couple of weeks, Boozer has been looking like the All-Star player he is capable of being. He has posted six double-doubles in the past eight games and has been shooting the ball great from the field (60.8 percent) and from the FT line (83 percent). Coach Jerry Sloan has praised Boozer’s more aggressive approach and willingness to play with his back against the basket.
“I don’t know if he still didn’t feel explosive or not,” Sloan told reporters yesterday. “But he seemed to be settling for too many contested shots from mid-range early this season. The last couple of times I’ve seen him, he’s been back on the block where he belongs.”
Fans have also started to like this new and improved Carlos.
“The fans seem to be coming around slowly,” says Martindale. “I don’t think they’ll ever embrace the guy again, but they seem to be more comfortable cheering for him when he makes a big play.”
While fans are willing to forgive, they aren’t getting their hopes too high on Boozer. They know his performance may be more of a result of being in a contract year rather than trying to win back fans.
“I think they can live with him as long as he keeps his mouth shut and puts up big numbers,” says Martindale. “They know that this will probably be his last year here, so I think they’ve resigned to put up with him until he’s gone. It’s a shaky truce that could shatter if he has a bad stretch of games.”
And that’s where the love-hate relationship come back into play.
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