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“I had a great time” |  Utah honors former All-Star Carlos Boozer

It was a chant that sent chills down many people’s spines at Vivint Arena on Friday night.

“BOOOOOOOOOOOOOZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ”

Former jazz great Carlos Boozer was back in the snow-capped mountains of Salt Lake City as Utah paid tribute to one of its greatest. A two-time All-Star and All-NBA selection during his six seasons with the Jazz, Boozer received a standing ovation from the Utah faithful when he was introduced to the crowd in the third quarter against the Phoenix Suns. .

“I had a great time here. I had a great time. … It’s one of the best teams I’ve ever played with,” he said ahead of Friday night’s whistleblowing. “We were like family. Coach Sloan made sure of that, and Larry Miller made sure of that. My kids would run down the hall, all of our kids would do the same thing. … We had a really unique team where everything the world was an option.”

Armed with a goatee and a fire that terrified even the toughest people, Boozer showed another side of himself during a media interview on Friday. Gone was the fierceness of his scowl, and in its place was a smile that lit up the night and a thunderous laugh that was contagious to all who listened.

Although the goatee has matured into a beard, Boozer told old stories about his former bandmates, the late Jerry Sloan, his odd connection to current jazz coach Quin Snyder, and most notably, an incredible story about Prince – yes , the prince who only needs one word for his name.

“We just had a really good team of guys who loved playing basketball. … Then we had Coach Sloan, who knew how to put all the pieces in the right place,” he said. “Me and Deron (Williams) had great success, but Memo (Mehmet Okur) was awesome, AK47 (Andrei Kirilenko) was awesome, Matt Harpring was awesome, Ronnie Brewer and Paul Millsap were young puppies who were obviously studs. … We have Kyle Korver, looks like Ashton Kutcher with a jump shot.

Although Boozer was right to talk about these great jazz teams during his tenure, make no mistake, he was one of the leaders of the group. Easily the most feared on the court – as evidenced by a story from Ronnie Brewer during the game – Boozer brought that intensity that seemed to push the Jazz to new heights during his tenure.

He averaged 19.3 points, 10.5 rebounds and 2.9 assists during his time at Utah, all career highs. He and Williams continued Utah’s longstanding tradition of having an elite pick-and-roll combo, reminding fans of the days of John Stockton and Karl Malone.

Although the Jazz never reached the NBA Finals during their time, falling just short of the Spurs or the Lakers, Boozer still maintains those teams were one piece away from winning a title.

“Slowly but surely all the pieces came together. … We felt like maybe we had enough,” Boozer said. “I thought we really needed a dominant centre, I felt like we were a long way from winning him.”

While Boozer now spends his time in Miami, enjoying life as a father while spending time with his children at their various sporting events, he still remains involved in basketball, even with the current jazz team.

“They have stallions there,” he said. “(Jordan) Clarkson was my rookie when I was in LA, and he found a home here, gives you a huge boost off the bench. Obviously the ‘Eiffel Tower’ (Rudy Gobert), he doesn’t there’s no one like him. … He’s like the modern day Dikembe Mutombo in those days. I wish I had that guy back then. And then the Donovan (Mitchell) special, man. one of those guys who can score with anyone in the league. … True superstar.”

Staying involved with the current team even sparked a friendly debate between him and Williams, a friendship that still goes strong today.

“Me and Deron talk about it a lot,” Boozer said. “I think we would have won if we had Rudy Gobert. He (Williams) thinks we would have won if we had Donovan as two guards. So we go back and forth with that. … That would have been cool if we had had both.”

Interestingly enough, Boozer knows Snyder quite well – but for 25 years.

As a rising star in Juneau, Alaska, Boozer was among the top prep basketball players in the county and recruited by many big-name schools, including Duke. As an assistant for the Blue Devils, Snyder was one of Boozer’s main scouts and a major reason the big man ended up in Durham, North Carolina.

Although they never worked together – Snyder left Duke to become Missouri’s head coach – Snyder remembers coaching against the same player he recruited.

“He was special, really special, even back then,” Snyder said.

While Snyder was right and Boozer was special then, he was even more special in a Utah uniform as part of his legacy lives on today; the famous triple-double. Boozer was the last Jazz player to record a triple-double in a game, on February 13, 2008, against the Seattle Supersonics.

“It was an accident, I was just playing ball. … I wasn’t trying to figure it out,” he said with a laugh. “I’m just passing the ball, having fun, trying to win a basketball game, and the bench was screaming at me, ‘Yo, you get one more assist, you get a triple-double.’ So I got a rebound and Ronnie Price got away, I just threw the ball and he ran and let it bounce a few times, and when he caught it, it was an assist. … So it was a team triple-double.

As Utah prepares to host the 2023 NBA All-Star Game, many stories will be written about the former jazz greats – and it’s only fitting that Boozer be mentioned alongside the other listed legacies.



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