There’s a good chance Carlos Boozer was never your favorite player.
The 6-foot-9 forward spent his six prime seasons playing for the Utah Jazz, one of the driving forces in helping the team reach the Western Conference Finals in 2007. But as much as he was a key player for a very good era for the Jazz, he never quite captured the same admiration as the power forward who preceded him — and whose statue rests outside Vivint Smart Home Arena.
Boozer called it a career on Monday, officially wrapping up 13 seasons in the NBA. At 36, Boozer went to the All-Star Game twice (both with the Jazz) and finishes his career as a top 100 rebounder and shooter (52.1 percent from the floor) in NBA history.
While he seems a long shot for the Hall of Fame, Boozer authored some great seasons with the Jazz — a legacy that was probably clouded over by his string of injuries and his sign-and-trade departure from Utah. Basketball Reference puts Boozer as the 12th-greatest Jazzman ever ranked by win shares (Deron Williams does not make that list).
Here’s a quick look at some of the highlights of Boozer’s tenure with the Jazz:
Signing as a free agent
Go ahead: Think. Who are the biggest free agents to ever sign with the Jazz? You probably have to put Boozer right at the top of the list.
The saga of Boozer’s arrangement with Utah was a little murky: The Cleveland Cavaliers made him a restricted free agent after a supposed “handshake” that he would resign with them — but the Jazz swept in with a better offer late in the game for six years and $68 million.
There were a lot of interesting figures at the center of the controversy, including Cavs teammate LeBron James (who would have his own free agency brouhaha years later) and Boozer’s then-agent Rob Pelinka, who now is the general manager of the Lakers. Even Cleveland GM Jim Paxson went on to be in the Chicago Bulls organization, which arranged a sign-and-trade with the Jazz in 2010 to get Boozer.
It’s also worth noting that Boozer’s Jazz debut, against the Lakers, was an impressive one: He scored 27 points and had 11 rebounds — an auspicious beginning to his up-and-down tenure in Utah.
Game 7 against the Houston Rockets in 2007
This is probably the fondest postseason memory most Jazz fans have of Boozer, when he had a mammoth game to help propel Utah over the Houston Rockets in round 1 of the wild 2007 playoffs.
It wasn’t even Boozer’s biggest point total of the series (he scored 41 in a Game 2 loss), but the Jazz went to him again and again in the pivotal game, and he scored 35 while grabbing 14 rebounds in the 103-99 win. He and Mehmet Okur helped keep Yao Ming (29 points) off the glass.
As it turned out, Boozer scored the game-winning points at the free throw line at the end. While many of his great teams will be remembered for stalling out against the Spurs and the Lakers, it was an indisputably great moment for Boozer in the postseason.
Triple-double in 2008
Quick trivia: Who is the last Jazzman to have a triple-double?
That’s right, it’s Carlos Boozer. It came on Feb. 23, 2008 in a 112-93 win over the Kevin Durant-led Seattle Supersonics. Boozer had 22 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in the victory. It’s the only triple-double of his career, and the Jazz haven’t had one since.
Games 3 and 4 against the Los Angeles Lakers in 2008
Yes, Boozer’s Jazz teams didn’t generally fare well against the Lakers in the playoffs. But there is at least a notable exception: When he helped even up the second-round series in 2008 at home.
In Game 3, Boozer helped outmuscle Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom on the glass with 20 rebounds to go with his 27 points. In Game 4, he had one of three Jazz double-doubles to help push the series to even. The Jazz went on to lose the series, but Boozer played a big role in making it interesting.
Did you remember that Boozer was on not one, but two Olympic teams?
His first excursion, to 2004 in Athens, was the less memorable of the runs. That was the year the United States, led by LeBron James and a number of other young NBA stars, lost three games during the Olympics on the way to a humiliating bronze.
But Boozer was also a part of the so-called “Redeem Team” which won eight straight on the way to gold in Beijing. He didn’t play much on that second team and didn’t get minutes in the semifinals or final, but hey — a gold medal is a gold medal.
Dunk over Gilbert Arenas
Gotta have one dunk in here, right?
This one over Gilbert Arenas in 2007 seems to be a fan favorite — even if Boozer himself never quite captured that label.