Utah Jazz: Boozer in, Williams out
WASHINGTON - There were plenty of opportunities Thursday evening for Jazz forward Carlos Boozer to savor his second selection to the NBA All-Star Game, starting when he received word on the bus ride from the airport to the team hotel. He arrived just in time to watch the official announcement on TNT from his room. Then Boozer headed into the city to have dinner with his mother, father and sisters, an occasion made all the more special because of the day's news.
Boozer was selected as a reserve by the Western Conference coaches for the Feb. 17 game in New Orleans. The 26-year-old becomes only the fifth Jazz player to be a two-time All-Star, along with Karl Malone, John Stockton, Adrian Dantley and Pete Maravich.
"It's hard to do it once, let alone twice,'' Boozer said, adding, "If you think about the guys that got left out, there's some really good players, some high-impact players, too. It speaks volumes about making it twice, especially in our conference."
The Jazz's 11-2 January, however, was not enough for guard Deron Williams to join Boozer as an All-Star. Phoenix's Steve Nash, New Orleans' Chris Paul and Portland's Brandon Roy all were chosen as reserve guards ahead of Williams.
"I'm a little disappointed D-Will didn't make it,'' Boozer said. "I felt like because we moved up so high, to the fourth spot, I thought he'd have a good chance."
Williams seemed resigned to the fact in the past week and greeted the news Thursday by saying, "That's how it goes." The interesting thing will be to watch how Williams responds: He followed his All-Star snub last season by scoring a career-high 33 points against Cleveland.
"I think he's going to tear up the league because of this," Boozer said. "I think it's going to motivate him and light a fire under him even more than he already has. He's already very motivated, so it's going to be scary to watch, but fun for us."
Even though he wasn't selected, Williams will be in New Orleans for a player representative meeting. He said he would welcome the chance to play if he was added to the Western Conference roster as an injury replacement.
"It'd still be an honor to be on the All-Star team, regardless," Williams said.
There were five players added as injury replacements last season and one of those injured All-Stars who missed the game was Boozer, who suffered a fractured left fibula head. He knocked on wood in the hotel lobby as he talked Thursday about playing this time around.
"I don't want to jinx that,'' Boozer said.
Boozer was chosen as a reserve forward along with Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki and New Orleans' David West.
He ranks among the league leaders in averaging 22.4 points and 10.6 rebounds and was named Western Conference player of the month in November.
It seems like a distant memory, but Boozer missed all of training camp in October as he remained in Miami while his son Carmani, now 20 months old, recovered from a bone-marrow transplant.
The family wasn't able to reunite in Salt Lake City until January.
But Boozer's play never showed the strains of his family's situation. He opened the season with double-doubles in six straight games, delivered 36 points and 11 rebounds in a November victory at Detroit and just last week hit his first 13 shots in a game against Sacramento.
"Some people handle it differently,'' Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "They know their job is kind of a relief for them to get away and play basketball. That's what he does. I thought he handled it very well."
A second-round draft pick in 2002, Boozer couldn't help but reflect on how far he has come in six years.
Thirteen players selected ahead of him already are out of the NBA, while the player chosen after Vincent Yarbrough and Robert Archibald now is a two-time All-Star.
"I wiped my tears off that night and I vowed to prove them wrong,'' Boozer said. "I feel like I'm still doing that now, I feel like I still have a chip on my shoulder a little bit and I feel like I'm still proving them wrong. I'm going to keep trying to do that."
Sunday, Feb. 17
Chauncey Billups, G, Detroit
Chris Bosh, F-C, Toronto
Caron Butler, F, Washington
x-Kevin Garnett, F, Boston
Richard Hamilton, G, Detroit
x-Dwight Howard, C, Orlando
x-LeBron James, F, Cleveland
Antawn Jamison, F, Washington
Joe Johnson, G, Atlanta
x-Jason Kidd, G, New Jersey
Paul Pierce, F, Boston
x-Dwyane Wade, G, Miami
x-Carmelo Anthony, F, Denver
Carlos Boozer, F, Utah
x-Kobe Bryant, G, L.A. Lakers
x-Tim Duncan, F, San Antonio
x-Allen Iverson, G, Denver
x-Yao Ming, C, Houston
Steve Nash, G, Phoenix
Dirk Nowitzki, F, Dallas
Chris Paul, G, New Olreans
Brandon Roy, G, Portland
Amare Stoudemire, F-C, Phoenix
David West, F, New Orleans