John Stockton could have driven drunk through Temple Square on his way to referee a dog fight, while pumped full of steroids, crack cocaine and horse tranquilizers, and shouting anti-Republican rhetoric and he never would have been booed in Salt Lake City. Every summer Karl Malone could never decide if he was disgruntled or merely gruntled and said many a wacky thing, but he was never booed in Salt Lake as a Jazzman.
To the uninformed, Carlos Boozer might seem to get plenty of boos in Salt Lake, but the fans are only happily yelling his last name. Come to think of it, how do opposing fans boo Carlos Boozer? They must think they are booing him when they are, in fact, cheering him on. This must be extra hard to swallow for the angry Cleveland fans who let Carlos slip away on a technicality and want to show their immense displeasure by booing him. Maybe they have to revert to the not-quite-so-popular or effective hiss to get their point across.
I’m trying to remember the last time a Jazz player was booed during pre-game introductions and I can’t think of one. Well, on Wednesday night’s pre-season opener, when number 47’s name was called there was a steady chorus of boos and catcalls that could not in any way be confused with any sort of joyous cheer or a misconstrued Welcome Back Andrei Kirilenko greeting. The fans were clearly not happy. It was obvious that Jazz fans don’t take lightly to the dissing of their team and the throwing of their elderly coach under a John Deere combine. For saying you would rather play anywhere, for any team, for almost no money than for playing another year here, true Jazz fans would not stand up and cheer for such a player.
Well, at least until he swats his first blocked shot which leads to a break-away Ronnie Brewer dunk at 6:08 remaining in the first quarter. Then it was Kumbaya time in Kirilenkoville. The love-fest was ratcheted up a notch when our crazy cosmonaut pulled off a sweet baseline behind-the-back pass to Paul Millsap who finished it off with a dunk. And when his stat sheet was filled with 10 points, 8 rebounds and 4 blocked shots, all was forgiven at least on this night.
Well, as George W. Bush so eloquently put it once, and I quote, “ Fool me once, shame on….(long pause)… shame on…. you, fool me - you cant get fooled again!” Besides being a shameless shout-out to Pete Townshend and The Who, I think what our president was trying to say was that we need to not let Andrei trick us with his gaudy stats and that if he starts acting up we might just have to bomb the Kremlin.
Jerry Sloan was quoted recently as saying that he wasn’t looking for a shooting guard, since the shooting part isn’t the problem, but that he was looking for a “making guard” or one who can actually make their shots. Well, Round One went to a new and improved Ronnie Brewer who put up 17 points, from all over the place, in about 21 minutes. He was followed closely by first round pick Morris Almond who nailed his first four shots on his way to double-figures in his first Jazz game.
Among the veterans, it was Andrei who looked the best and he looked like the Kirilenko of old and that is good enough for me. However, it was obvious the Jazz were also missing Carlos. We hope he rejoins the team soon and that everything is okay with his son. It would be nice if the only boos we hear are reserved for the opposing team or for another driving left-hand dunk by Boozer.