NBA / Aug 24, 2010 / 3:15 pm

Carlos Boozer explains why he left Utah and picked Chicago

Carlos Boozer (photo. Jeffery Salter)

Life’s not about the destination; it’s the journey that’s important. It’s something that I think I’ve heard from every clichéd graduation speaker and encouraging family friend in my life. It’s also a phrase that most of us casually toss aside. But for Carlos Boozer, it’s something that he’s taken an exception to embracing in his own basketball journey. And his path has been one of success just as much as trial and error.

It’s a road that has led him from Juneau, Alaska, to a national championship at Duke, to the NBA in Cleveland, Utah, and now the Chicago Bulls. Along that path, he has amassed an Olympic gold medal, two All-Star appearances and an inside game that is rivaled by only few. In his eighth year in the League last season, Boozer was able to pour in 19.6 points and 10.8 rebounds a game for the Jazz — who also advanced to the second round of the playoffs. In short, he’s been a beast since entering the League as a second-round pick in 2002.

As this summer’s free agency circus ran the media — and every team under the cap — into a frenzy, Boozer quietly waited out the South Beach storm and signed with Chicago in early July. With a horde of teams capable of snagging the 6-9, 266-pound forward, Boozer felt the Bulls presented him with the best opportunity.

“They want to win. They want to win for a long time,” he says. “They have the championship pedigree there and they have the DNA in place with the talent. All we have to do is go work and compete every night and prove that we’re worthy of being called a contender. And it’s something that you have to earn.

“I think we’re a young, hungry team, full of guys that don’t have a championship and we want one. It’s not an easy road to take, but we’re willing to take that road.”

And for a guy who’s been accustomed to the road his whole life, that shouldn’t be a problem. In Dime #58, Boozer talked about his summer move:

*** *** ***

Dime: So why Chicago? Why was it the best fit for you?
Carlos Boozer: Just everything was encompassing. I think the talent was obviously there; they have a bunch of young talent. I know with D-Rose and Joakim (Noah) and Luol Deng, and then you add me to the mix with the young guys that they got. Then the Draft last season and with a new coach that won a championship in ’08 with the Celtics, it just seemed like the right fit. You know, I think [it's] a team that’s really going to get back to that championship level. They have [the plan] in place just to get it done, they just need to put some more pieces into the puzzle and I’m looking forward to being a part of that puzzle.

Dime: What’s your relationship with the city like? Are you pretty familiar with it?
CB: A little bit. I’ve been there a couple times here and there trying to find a place [to live] and it’s awesome. I’m going tell you, they’re huge on sports … They love their sports in Chicago. I’ve been there a short period of time, but that’s the overwhelming feeling. They support their teams. They come out. A lot of the same fans you’ll see at the baseball and football games will be at the basketball games too. It’s great to be a part of a sports town … they’re super loyal.

Dime: Why was now the best time to leave Utah?
CB: Ah, I was a free agent number one (laughs). And number two, obviously I grew up (as a player) in Utah and had a great time out there with Coach (Jerry) Sloan and with my teammates. I definitely miss a lot of things about Utah — and I had great teammates and coaches, and the city embraced me — so it was great to be a part of it. But at this time, this was the best opportunity for me this summer and I look forward to it.

Dime: What are your thoughts on the whole free agency stampede this summer?
CB: Obviously there was a lot being speculated upon on where everybody was going to go. But everybody is in place — well, not everybody, but most the big players have already signed with their teams — and it’s going to be fun to see what happens next season ’cause I think Miami’s going to have a very good team. It’s going to be interesting to see what New York is able to pull off. Not necessarily next season, but maybe with trades and (free agency) next summer with some of the guys that may be up-and-coming. But Joe Johnson being able to stay in Atlanta, it’s going to be interesting to see what happens the rest of the way. ‘Cause you know, I think the East has gotten loaded up this summer. The West will obviously still be good, but the East has gotten better — especially the top of the East. And you look at the teams like the Bulls, Miami, Boston, Orlando and Atlanta; all teams that are still going to be really good, or improved — are going to be much improved. So it’s going to be an interesting race this season.

Dime: So then is Miami the team to beat in the East?
CB: No. I would say, listen: Boston represented the East last year and I think until somebody beats them in the Playoffs, they’re going to be the team to beat. You know, I think two years ago with Orlando representing the East and then last year with Boston … In my opinion, those four or five teams that I just talked about will be in competition for that top spot. I think Boston, us, Miami, the Hawks (and Orlando) will be right there in the mix for that top spot. But who gets it, we’ll have to wait and see.

Dime: During the summer you’re very involved with your foundation. Tell me a little about it and what you’ve been trying to accomplish.
CB: Yeah, it’s the Boozer’s Buddies Foundation. It’s to raise money for those kids that have sickle cell anemia, so it can cure them or get them medicine to help the disease. My son had it and we gave him a bone marrow transplant two years back and it cured him of it. So what we try to do, we try to raise money through camps and various charity events that we do, to help out those families that can’t afford to take care of their kid or their family member with either the medicines or even the bone marrow transplant procedures themselves.

Dime: What’s the best part of being associated with something this important to so many people?
CB: Just seeing their family member get better. I think the best thing about it is being able to help somebody that may not be able to stay in a hospital (financially) or pay for their hospital bills. Just different things like that are really rewarding because you’re able to see the difference right away. Whether the child can stay in a hospital and get the medicine that he/she needs or whether the bone marrow transplant is able to get done so they can be completely healthy. All those things are rewarding to us…We’re going on like our third year. Doing really well. I think it’s a great thing for us to do.

I think if you’re able to help, you should, right?

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  • control

    He left Utah because he was hated there. I’ve never seen a whole state be angry that a guy opted into the final year of his deal like when Booze turned around and picked up his final year after saying he was going to become a free agent last year.

    For a guy this good, cities usually hate him when he’s gone (or there).

  • Joe’s Momma

    Same reason he ditched Cleveland 6 yrs ago, $$$

  • Matt

    Boozer wasn’t embraced here in Salt Lake. Two years ago when he was injured (Again) he said that he was going to opt out of his contract because I quote: “I want to get paid, I want a max money deal”. He said this when he had yet to give our team a full year while healthy. We all knew what he was capable of, but he never showed it to us consistently, until last season. Then he decides that he wasn’t going to get the money in free agency so he opted back in. He hasn’t wanted to play here for a few years now, his son can’t handle the altitude because of his illness and his wife hates the state.

    He left a HOF coach and the leagues best point guard for money, that simple.

  • Brett

    Ummm…Matt. You just gave two reasons besides money he left – his son’s illness and his wife so I guess it’s not “that simple”. I’m pretty sure that money is the #1 reason he left but as you point out, he’s been a monkey on the Jazz’s back for two years now – this is a win-win for him and the Jazz.

  • Alex “Robocop” Murphy

    AK47 at the 4 again!

  • Diggity Dave

    Boozer’s just being a bitter little bitch about not getting invited to the Miami orgy. Boston, my ass. Heat are the team to beat, and he knows it.

  • Michorizo

    Even a blind guy would have known that he would eventually bolt Utah when his contract ran out…

  • K Dizzle

    The “REAL” Interview

    Dime – “Carlos, why Chicago?”

    Boozer – “umm, New York signed Amare and then Miami wanted Bosh. I wantede to go to South Beach cuz they got no income tax and DWade carries the load there. I just kinda took the most money and lucked out to land on a up n comer. It’s kinda what I did in Cleveland where I coulda played with Lebron, but I lied to that blind owner and took that Utah money even though the Cavs let me out of my contract to do me a favor….Think Cleveland woulda learnt by now never to trust a player…..”

  • Chise

    @ K Dizzle

    Amen.

  • Young Gunner

    He couldve said Chicago is a better city than Salt Lake *shrugs*

  • http://getyourishbusted.net Chicagorilla

    f^king Boozer…I never thought I would be so unhappy to get a 20-10 player in Chicago. That bastard better get on the BLOCKS and post up. As soon as he starts settling for that stupid 15-20ft jumpshot I’m going to stab myself in the eye so i will never accidently watch another Bulls game.

  • jzsmoove

    who is boozer to talk about loyalty? yeah, thats right.

  • Kyle

    Isn’t this the guy who took notes from Jerry Sloan’s career as a player? He was a cut-throat pirate(and all-star), but had tons of injuries and knew when to get paid before retiring. Not a dis on Sloan as much as it is Boozer. Sloan was one of the best defensive players, made two all-star teams, though seemed to be injured often.

    He went to Chicago, because he’s all about money, and doesn’t realize he will suck there. Maybe if Scott Skiles were still coaching them, he’d be successful.

  • Chris

    I really doubt that Boozer reason for going to Chicago was based on $$$ like most of yall think. He signed to the bulls for 75 Million when he could have gotten more from the Nets. If you remember New Jersey was willing to give him more than Chicago and he turned it down to sign with the bulls. I think it was the best place for him a major market, the talent, the playing time and the money

  • G-man

    wow, so I gues nobody was a math major here…Everyone knows Boozer could have gotten the MAX contract if he stayed with his current team, as they are the only ones allowed to give a free agent the most money, so he didnt leave cause of money. He left cause of Market. Utah is not a big market and Chicago is…not to mention the bulls have more in lines of commitment to pay for a winning team, (depth and everything), so what the hell are u all talking about?

  • TheBestPG

    g-man,

    What are your sources on Booz getting a max contract if he stayed in Utah?

    He was shopping Utah for a six year contract, not necessarily max money.

    Man is soft, and getting old. Kind of like his gold medal accolade where he averaged 2 minutes of pt per game.

  • Joe’s Momma

    @ Chris

    He didn’t turn anything down from Jersey. He just didn’t give them time to react to the Chicago deal. Once Chi offered him that 75, he jumped and signed it.

    If Jersey didn’t low ball him to start, then maybe he would have given them a chance to match or exceed that amount.

    I’m not hating on Booz for taking the $, both with Utah and Chi, the self life for a player is 10 years give or take? Make your money while you can. Plus, this dude has played 1 injury free year in the past 6. One more injury and his playing days could be over. He gotta look out for himself, no one else will.

    There is no loyalty in this game. Guys get cut all the time. There is only loyalty from a franchise to the top players when they are at the top of their games. Anyone who thinks any different is not seeing clearly.

    Anyone talking about loyalty is silly. This game is a business, and it is cut throat. Loyalty aint part of it.

    Derek Fisher, the guy who got 5 rings in LA had to fake like he was considering Miami before LA ponied up 10 mil over 3 yrs. If any player deserves some loyalty from a team it is this man, yet teams gotta look out for their own interests first.

  • http://deleted dagwaller

    Fluck Boozer.

    “All we have to do is go work and compete every night and prove that we’re worthy of being called a contender. And it’s something that you have to earn.”

    I’m a Bulls fan, and therefore have no love for SLC, but all the same…fluck Boozer. You didn’t earn ish. You jumped ship from the place where you did all of your earning, and now you’re trying to piggy back onto another team. Please don’t ruin the Bulls.

  • Mikey85

    Boozer gonna b great with the bulls just wait he has a great point guard in rose, a true center with Noah and obvisouly he will b be comfortable with brewer and korver. Pick and roll with booze and rose will be the go to play

  • tbonesteak

    I will gladly take the booze and whoever thinks Miami is the frontrunner to win it all can suck deez nutz. That supporting cast is more broke than a bum on the street. Van Gundy should get his head examined for his comments.