Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Is Carlos Boozer worth it?

How long can you keep it up?

How long can you keep the hatred burning in your belly?

I know Cleveland fans pride themselves on being the elephants of pro sports. They never forget. Once a bitter enemy, always a bitter enemy. And no one deserves to be reviled in Cleveland more than Carlos Boozer.

He said he would stay. He lured us into trusting him. He gave the Cavaliers organization a false sense of security to the extent that they felt comfortable letting him out of his contract. That in of itself was a pretty big mistake, but not even the judgmentally-challenged tandem of Jim Paxson and Gordon Gund would have gambled with a key cog in their team without some kind of reassurance that releasing him from his option year was a safe move.

Turncoat. Benedict Arnold. Scalawag. Backstabber. All of it applies to Boozer, who merrily and unrepentantly cashes his checks in Utah.

And you know what? All the Cleveland rage in the world isn't going to change that. Just like all the rage in the world won't ever make Art Modell sorry he moved the Browns.

So how long are you going to keep your teeth clenched and your fists pumping? How long can you keep your anger at Boozer bottled up, waiting for that one day when you can go to The Q and let that sniveling son-of-a-drip have it?

Because it appears Boozer is willing to play the waiting game, too.

Boozer has played the Cavs a grand total of one time since bolting for Utah, and that likely won't change this year. A broken leg will sideline him for tonight's matchup in Utah and almost certainly will for next month's rematch in Cleveland. If predictions are accurate, Boozer will be 0-for-3 in giving Cleveland fans their shot at revenge.

You keep vowing to give him the most inhospitable welcome any fan base has ever given, bigger than the chorus off boo-birds and projectiles that greeted Albert Belle upon his return to Jacobs Field as a member of the White Sox.

Boozer keeps dodging, always coming up with conveniently-timed rehab appointments that cause him to not be able to travel with the team.

It's no secret that Boozer is trying to let time dull the feelings of betrayal. He saw the Malice at the Palace. he knows what can happen when inebriated, enraged fans meet a vilified player. He doesn't want a beer cup to the noggin, or worse.

So he waits. Eventually, he'll have to suit up and play at The Q. Maybe he really was going to do it this year until his injury. But now he gets to buy some more time before he faces Cleveland's Army of the Incredulous.

This might be a waiting game Boozer can win. Boozer can keep rehabbing and cashing checks, but it's going to be significantly harder for Cleveland fans to maintain their level of rage at him.

So maybe it's time to take the high road and treat Boozer like any other Andrei Kirilenko who comes through The Q. Maybe indifference is the best medicine, like moving on with your life after being dumped.

It's been three years. Boozer is getting his just desserts with a maddening string of injuries that has both hampered his career and caused Jazz management to lose their patience with him. He's also playing for Western Conference team that is thoroughly cemented behind Dallas, Phoenix and San Antonio, reducing by miles the chance that we will have to endure another Cleveland backstabber hoisting a championship trophy any time soon.

Meanwhile, the Cavs are in the hunt for the best record in the (albeit far weaker) Eastern Conference.

Let it go. Boozer is a schmuck who just isn't worth the cost of the blood pressure medication it will take to stay mad at him until he finally re-appears for his Cleveland punishment.

The punishment he gets is the constant reminder that he is not, nor will he ever be, the next Karl Malone.


Mike said...

How long? Are you kidding me? There are people who still hold a grudge against Art Modell for firing Paul Brown!!

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure that the Jazz are "thoroughly cemented" behind those other three teams. The records are close and the Jazz had a better record earlier in the season. This weakens an otherwise strong argument.

Zach said...

As far as grudges go, I think Carlos is pretty low on the list. Cleveland fans have held grudges, and they can with the best. Consider:
Art Modell: moving, firing Paul Brown
Bill Belichick: Releasing Bernie Kosar
Albert Belle: We hate him not because he's psycho, but because he took the money.
Michael Jordan and John Elway: They beat us.
Boozer may come in somewhere around here on the list. Had he gone to New York or Chicago, it'd be one thing. But as you mentioned, we don't see him much, and when we do, he's out.

Erik said...

I think Boozer is above Jordan, Elway and even Belichick now.

Jordan got a standing ovation during his last appearance in Cleveland. When Elway won his two Super Bowls, he went from horseteethed bastard who beat us three times to begrudgingly-accepted all-time great.

Belichick has so thoroughly shoved his Cleveland years into the background, his time with the Browns is almost rendered irrelevant. No one cares anymore, certainly not since the team left and came back.

Modell is the king of Cleveland sports villains. Always will be. But as far as athletes go, only Belle is probably more hated because of his personality and moneygrubbing.