Is Carlos Boozer Being Made a Scapegoat by Chicago Bulls Fans?

Peter OwenCorrespondent IIJuly 5, 2012

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 21: Carlos Boozer #5 of the Chicago Bulls looks to pass against the Dallas Mavericks at the United Center on April 21, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Mavericks 93-83. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agress that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Carlos Boozer was the Chicago Bulls' big free-agent signing of the manic summer of 2010.

LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh were all on the table and the Bulls ended up with Boozer after the big three decided to team up on South Beach.

Bulls fans rejoiced at finally obtaining a low-post threat, something that the team had lacked for several years.

Then the season began. Boozer was injured before training camp even began and the Bulls won without him.

All through his first season Boozer was given a tough ride by the Chicago faithful. Accusations of being soft, overpaid and over-hyped were rampant.

Trouble was, this was the Carlos Boozer the Bulls signed. A defensively poor, soft finisher at the rim with a decent if spotty mid-range jump shot.

Many Bulls fans saw Boozer's maximum contract and assumed he would be leading the team to NBA Championship glory. In reality, the Bulls overpaid for him and are constantly regretting their decision.

After ending the season by virtually disappearing in the playoffs, Boozer took the brunt of the criticism from the fans for his perceived poor play in the big games.

This season the public perception seems no different. Fans still want Boozer traded or amnestied as they believe he is a useless waste of a large chunk of salary.

However, Boozer was arguably the Bulls' best player behind Derrick Rose this season. Boozer played all 66 games, a surprise after his injury-interrupted 2010-11 season.

His defense is still terrible, but he did improve on offense and came close to his career averages.

Once again though, he was still the first name mentioned when Bulls fans were asked whose fault their loss was.

After a strong finish to the season, disaster struck. Derrick Rose's ACL tear left Boozer as the Bulls' top offensive weapon.

Instead of taking this opportunity to really win over those fans who were criticizing him, Boozer played appallingly in the series against Philadelphia as big man after big man got whatever he wanted against him offensively.

This is all an over-reaction. The Philadelphia 76ers are a team well-built to defeat the Bulls—they're good defensively and a real energetic and athletic team, athletes being a desperate need on this Bulls roster.

Boozer, however, is not to blame for this year's early exit. Obviously, Rose's injury is the top reason for the exit, but Joakim Noah and Luol Deng both missed considerable time as well, Deng opting to play on with a torn ligament in his left wrist.

This year was maybe not meant to be for the team since with so many issues, they were never in the right state of mind to make a run for the championship as Rose was constantly in and out of the rotation with various different injuries.

On top of this, the Bulls had to deal with below-average performances from Deng, Noah, C.J. Watson and Ronnie Brewer, enough to make them struggle with dealing with these few extra annoyances.

Boozer's play has been bad, but not bad enough to warrant the abuse and criticism he receives from all corners of the Bulls' fanbase.

Boozer is just too easy to pick on, hence why he has been turned into a scapegoat by fellow fans.

Bulls fans simply need to learn that this Boozer they have today is the same Boozer of two summers ago and is exactly what the front office thought they were signing. Only hype and expectation caused Boozer's popularity to grow quite so much among the fans.

Ultimately, Boozer will likely be amnestied before the final year of his contract.