Carlos Boozer has some serious explaining to do to Jazz fans. Ever since Boozer's comment to ESPN's Chris Sheridan ("I'm opting out. No matter what, I'm going to get a raise regardless."), Boozer has been on a fast decline to the doghouse of most Jazz fans.
Jazz fans know one thing for sure about Carlos Boozer: He is playing strictly for money. If any Jazz fan thinks he has any inkling of loyalty, then Jazz fans must have forgotten how he came to Utah in the first place.
The only reason Carlos Boozer put on a Jazz uniform is because the Jazz were able to pay him more than Cleveland. Boozer, secret corrupt bargain with the Cavaliers or not, displayed no loyalty to Cleveland, the team which drafted him in the second round and gave him a chance to play in the NBA. As soon as there was more money on the table, Boozer jumped took it.
Boozer also played last season with free agency in mind. Boozer wasn't going to hurry back from a nagging injury, he was going to wait until he was absolutely 100 percent. He couldn't have anyone see him play substandard basketball in a contract year.
Boozer was also going to get his stats regardless of the situation. When the Jazz were wondering if they should move him to the bench to help the team, Boozer refused. A demotion to the bench would have killed his value. He also couldn't let it appear as if he was on the same level as teammate Paul Millsap.
Millsap's rise while Boozer was injured was great for the Utah Jazz. Millsap was able to help carry the team during Boozer's absence. Yet, for Boozer, it was one of the worst things which could have happened to him.
Millsap's stats were very similar to Boozer's, and Millsap was not going to demand the same amount of money in the offseason. This would cause general managers throughout the NBA to question, "why would we pay for Boozer when we could get Millsap for half the money?"
Boozer needed to protect himself throughout last season so he could get paid.
Is it bad that Boozer plays just for the money? No, but Jazz fans just need to understand Boozer will always do strange things in order to get the most money possible.
One of those strange things was his decision to opt to his contract. Boozer publicly came out and said at least five time that he was going to opt out of his contract.
Yet, once it became clear that the market for an often injured, undersized power forward wasn't very good in a bad economy, Boozer took the most money that was on the table and opted in to the final year of his contract in Utah.
Even though it made him into a hypocrite by breaking his word, his character remained constant.
Boozer then came to Utah and tried to work out an extension. However, the Jazz told him they weren't interested. The Jazz then signed Mehmet Okur to an extension and matched Millsap's offer from Portland. Boozer's days in Utah officially became numbered.
Boozer once again started looking to find more money, and the best way to do that was to get himself traded. Boozer and his agent started a cycle of following floating trade rumors and doing media blitzes in the markets of potential destinations.
While Boozer was trying to make himself more appealing to NBA markets, what he actually did was kill his own trade value and further alienate himself from Jazz fans.
Other NBA teams were just sending low ball offers to the Jazz, thinking the Jazz simply wanted Boozer off their hands. Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor was doing more press than usual simply to try and counter the damage that Boozer was doing to his trade value.
The Jazz proved they weren't just going to trade Boozer and be done with him. The Jazz want to get some value back for Boozer—even if that meant bringing Boozer back in a Jazz uniform for the start of the season, which they decided to do.
Now Boozer's decision to treat basketball strictly as a business is coming back to haunt him. Jazz fans are decidedly against Carlos Boozer.
Jazz fans have a very high basketball IQ compared to other fan bases. Simply putting up stats is not good enough to satisfy Jazz fans, because the majority of them know there is more to the game of basketball than stats.
Jazz fans like to see hustle and heart from their players; those are two characteristics Boozer's game is lacking. That is one of the reasons Boozer was already less popular among Jazz fans compared to other players on the team.
Millsap has always been more popular than Boozer ever since he came to Utah. Jazz fans are now ready to give Millsap a chance to lead the team even though Boozer has more basketball talent.
Besides the flaws in Boozer's game, there are other factors working against him as he tries to find forgiveness from the fan base. Larry H. Miller not being here this season will hurt his chances.
Miller and Karl Malone seemed to have multiple battles during the offseason. Malone said some pretty stupid things, too, including the fact that he wanted to sign with the Lakers, which is the ultimate insult to Jazz fans.
The fan base would be angered; however, Miller would always take care of these issues in the offseason. He would also help the player to be accepted again by the fanbase, even if it meant Miller having to shoulder more of the blame than he really deserved.
Boozer will not have the protection of Miller. Boozer is on his own.
The Jazz are also still shopping Boozer. The Jazz are over the salary cap, and they have until mid-February to trade Boozer in order not to incur the luxury tax.
The Jazz are hoping Boozer will play well at the beginning of the season to raise his trade value, and once he has reestablished his trade value, the Jazz will move him. Boozer will not have a chance to play his way back into the good graces of Jazz fans.
Boozer is going to have multiple statements saying how he is happy to be back in Utah and how he is ready to win. He is going to say all the things an NBA player is expected to say.
Boozer will also, most likely, put up an impressive stat line. The Jazz's media outlet will try to tell fans that they should forgive Boozer since he is playing well. Yet, there is little Boozer can do to get back on the good side of most Jazz fans.
Jazz fans reward loyalty among their players. Most Jazz fans believe there is more to basketball than simply winning a title. They want their players to not only win, but win the right way. Perhaps this is naive considering the current structure of the NBA.
Regardless, Boozer has shown his true nature, and he will continue to search for the next big paycheck. He is unlikely to change and Jazz fans are unlikely to forgive.
For more sports news, articles, and insights visit The Big Podcast.