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Chicago Bulls forward Carlos Boozer, center, reacts as he celebrates with center Joakim Noah (13) and guard Nate Robinson (2) after scoring during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Milwaukee Bucks in Chicago, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Kragthorpe: Jazz fans should give Boozer a break
NBA » Time for Jazz followers to appreciate forward’s body of work in Utah
First Published Feb 08 2013 11:04 am • Last Updated Feb 20 2013 04:15 pm

My goals are reasonable. Rather than calling for a complete end to the feud between Jazz fans and ex-Jazz forward Carlos Boozer, I’m asking for a gradual phasing out of the booing during Boozer’s visits to EnergySolutions Arena.

Starting lineup introductions tonight? Fine. Every time he touches the ball? Too much.

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Although this is only the second time Boozer has returned to ESA with the Chicago Bulls, with the lockout-shortened schedule having scratched an appearance in 2011-12, the fact is it’s been nearly three years since he played for the Jazz. That’s long enough for the hostility to have waned.

Look, I understand the resentment of Boozer, factoring in the injuries that caused him to miss about one-third of the games during six seasons, and some of the ill-advised things he said along the way. But he also did too many good things to be perceived so badly.

Boozer was the best player in the Jazz’s biggest game of this century. He delivered 35 points and 14 rebounds in a Game 7 victory at Houston in 2007, which ultimately enabled the Jazz to reach the Western Conference finals. That’s happened only once since 1998, and would anyone like to forecast when it will happen again?

And then there’s the often-cited final game of the 2009-10 regular season, when Boozer sat out in a loss to Phoenix that cost the Jazz home-court advantage in the playoffs. What’s overlooked is how he then led the Jazz to a first-round series victory over Denver, with Andrei Kirilenko and Mehmet Okur sidelined by injuries.

Kirilenko received a partial standing ovation when he returned with Minnesota in January, which was nice. Jazz fans looked beyond Kirilenko’s injuries and underachieving play at times and showed appreciation for his body of work over 10 seasons in Utah. Boozer deserves some of the same treatment, but I’d settle for a reduction of booing.

kkragthorpe@sltrib.com

Twitter: @tribkurt




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