During Friday night’s Utah Jazz game against the Phoenix Suns, the team paid tribute to former All-Star, All-NBA and Olympian forward Carlos Boozer, who is arguably the biggest free agent addition in the league. team to date, and became a franchise focal point for six seasons between 2004 and 2010.
Various video montages – including game highlights and testimonials from former teammates – were shown throughout the game, and during a stoppage in play during the third quarter, it was celebrated on the center court with a tribute that included a framed jersey and thousands of delighted fans. serenading him with shouts of “Boooooooozzzzz!”
Before the game, however, he spent nearly 20 minutes chatting with members of the media, reminiscing and answering questions about everything from his humble beginnings in Juneau, Alaska, to the now infamous story. from when late pop superstar Prince rented his house.
Here are some important points:
Memories of Utah and Jazz
Boozer said there was no pressure to replace Karl Malone at Utah, as Andrei Kirilenko was already very good, he was joined in free agency by Mehmet Okur, and the team drafted Deron Williams a year later to form a talented nucleus:
“I had a blast here. I had a great time, man – it’s one of the best teams I’ve ever played for. We were like a family. Coach Sloan made sure of that, Larry Miller made sure of that. My kids would run down the hall, all of our kids would do the same. We had a really unique team where everyone was an option.
“Me and Deron had a lot of shine, but Memo was awesome, AK47 was terrific, Matt Harpring was awesome, Ronnie Brewer and Paul Millsap were young puppies who were obviously studs. We had a group of guys who could play. We got Kyle Korver, the knockdown [shooter] – looks like Ashton Kutcher there with a jump shot. We just had a really good team of guys who loved to play basketball. And then we had Coach Sloan, who put all the pieces in the right place. So we had a blast.
“Really, it was off the field. D-Will threw some of the best Halloween parties ever! I don’t know if you’re aware of that. It’s just times like our team away of the match that are really close to my heart.”
fall short and collapse
The Jazz reached the Western Conference Finals once during Boozer’s tenure, but they always seemed to fall short against the Lakers or Spurs. The year after Boozer left in free agency, the team exploded with the sudden retirement of Jerry Sloan and the trade of Deron Williams:
“Slowly but surely, all the pieces fell into place. We felt like maybe we had enough, maybe we were a little short on size – as we roll against the Lakers and they have Lamar Odom and [Andrew] Bynum and Pau Gasol, all 7 feet in their positions, and Spurs were also loaded with size. We felt like we could beat everyone and we were there for every game.
“I thought we really needed a dominant center, like we could have had Marcus Camby, or DeAndre Jordan was very young but he was coming up, Tyson Chandler… I felt like we were that coin away from earning it. But obviously there’s not a lot of money.
“We really enjoyed the atmosphere Larry had here, may he rest in peace, and when he left that changed – the dynamic changed when Greg took over; it was not the same atmosphere.
“It feels like it fell apart very quickly. Who knows what would have happened if we had stayed together.
The influence of Jerry Sloan
Boozer was keen to point out that the late Hall of Fame coach Jerry Sloan constantly underlined how much the Jazz needed him and allowed him to take his game to the next level:
“There are a few coaches in my life who really stand out for me personally. Obviously, my father put the ball in my hands. My high school coach, who is also here, really helped me progress. Coach K gave me the basics of the pro I was going to take forward. And Coach Sloan gave me a chance to be a star. He talked to me a lot – we talked on the phone maybe three or four times before I even got here, before I signed the contract. And then when I got here, [we had a conversation] where he felt like there were certain things I could bring to the table that no one else on the team had. So for me, he really took my career from here to here. I wouldn’t be sitting here now if it wasn’t for Coach Sloan.
Thoughts on the current Jazz team
He keeps an eye on the evolution of the organization. He said he and Williams frequently discuss the roster, especially Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell. Meanwhile, he has a connection to Jordan Clarkson, as they were Lakers teammates in 2014-15, Boozer’s final season in the league:
“They have studs there, man. [Jordan] Clarkson was my rookie when I was at LA Stud – loves to play ball. And he found a home here, sixth man of the year, which gives you a huge boost off the bench. Obviously the “Eiffel Tower”, [sic] there is no one like him – he is like the modern day Dikembe Mutombo at this time. It blocks everything. I wish we had that guys at the time. And then the Donovan special, man. He’s one of those guys who can score with anyone in the league. Real star. He takes that pressure on. They are fun to watch.
“[I watch them] a lot, in fact. We follow them. Deron and I talk about it a lot. See, I think we would have won if we had Rudy Gobert; he think we would have won it if we had Donovan as two guards. So we come and go with that. Would have been cool if we had both! If we were born a little later and they were born a little earlier… you know?
His franchise record that endures to this day
Boozer is famous for being the last Jazz player to score a triple-double in a regular season game – waaaaay on February 13, 2008, against the SuperSonics:
“I heard about that. My kids actually told me – they follow Instagram pretty heavily, and I guess it came across the ‘Gram’.
“It was an accident – I was just playing ball! I wasn’t trying to get it! We were in Seattle at the time, and I was just passing the ball, having fun, trying to win a basketball game, and the bench yelled at me, ‘Yo, you get one more assist, you get a triple-double!’ So I had a rebound and Ronnie Price escaped; I just threw the ball and he ran and let it bounce a couple of times, and when he caught it it was an assist. So it was a team triple-double.
what he does now
Boozer lives in Miami, noting that after growing up in Alaska he decided to live somewhere warm and sunny if he could afford it. While he does occasional work as a television analyst, his life now revolves around his children:
“Only [being] a dad, man. I just enjoy basketball. My eldest son plays baseball, so I’m often on the field to watch him play. My two twins play basketball, so I follow them while they make noise – they just won the state. My little girl is all over the house. So just being a dad. I do a little ACC Network stuff here and there, a little NBA TV, so I talk a lot about Jazz. But for the most part, I’m just a father, a guy, who likes to play, enjoy life, travel a little, try to lose weight for the summer like everyone else.
And finally… Prince praising (and taking liberties with) his home
The story has been out for years about when the late pop superstar took over the California hoopster pad and lent his own quirky vibe to the place. But hearing Boozer recount it and sprinkle in some hilarious details was the highlight of the night:
“So, once upon a time, I bought a house in Bel-Air. It was actually right before I came to the Jazz for training camp. I bought a crib there, it was crazy – like 18,000 square feet was a lot. We just had it decorated, we had probably only spent three or four days in the house – at the time it was me and my [now]-ex-wife CeCe, it was just me and her, we didn’t have kids yet.
“I bought the crib, I moved here to Utah, I came here for the season, my real estate agent in LA, Roxanne, kept telling me, ‘Someone wants to rent your house. . And I was like, ‘No. I didn’t even spend time at home. And then she was like, ‘Well, he’s willing to pay $95,000 a month.’ And I was like, ‘Oh.’ Since I’m going to be in Utah for the next eight, nine months…
“So I flew to Los Angeles, met him there. He came in a limo, got out of the car – I didn’t know who it was until he got out of the car. I look at Roxanne and say, ‘It’s Prince, isn’t it?’ She says, ‘Yeah!’ He ends up being Prince We walk around the house for maybe an hour I showed him some of the intricacies of the house There was a solarium but also a tennis court which I turned into a pitch And he was a big basketball fan – grew up in Minnesota, was a big Kevin Garnett fan, so we talked about KG. And then he rented the crib.
“That’s the year I tore my hamstrings four or five times. So there’s a really good physical therapist in LA. She’s phenomenal, so I went to see her. And I kept to call Prince: “I’ll come by the house, if you need anything, let me know. But he wouldn’t return my call. I pulled up to the house – I had these two golden lions on the gate, and it wasn’t there. I was like, ‘Is this the right address?’ I’m walking down the street, up the street. It was a symbol I’ve never seen before. I’m like, ‘What is this? Whose house is this? put my code in the door and it opened.
“I arrived by car and went upstairs. And he had ripped out everything in my house – 18,000 square feet – and put it in storage. And everything was purple and black everywhere. There was purple and black carpeting, purple and black beds. I had a weight room – he turned the weight room into a night club with a disco ball and a DJ booth…which I thought was pretty cool! He had a massage parlor in one room. He transformed the whole house to look like him. And I’m not used to that – I’ve never rented a house from anyone before. I’m 22, 23 – I’m a bit beside myself.
“So I call and call – at least the number I thought was his. I’m like, ‘Has he changed his number?’ It was like an ex-girlfriend thing happening! I ended up reaching out to him, and he’s in Asia touring for his album. And he finally hit me back and he was like, ‘Booz, don’t worry. I got you.’ He wired me $500,000 to reassure me. He says: ‘When I move, it will be as if I had never been there.’
“Long story short: He rents my crib for a year, for $95,000 a month, puts 18,000 square feet of a house in storage, and redecorates the whole house — right down to the crotchets. Then wires me half a mil to clear my mind. And then when I got to the end of his tenure, it was like he was never there. That’s how much money Prince had! Incredible. True story, however.