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Boozer excited for a fresh start
by Andy Jasner / October 27, 2004

Carlos Boozer’s summer was as exciting as it was tumultuous.

Now he’s looking forward to some stability.

After leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers to sign a reported $68 million contract with the Utah Jazz in July, Boozer’s former team felt snubbed. Cavaliers owner Gordon Gund even went so far to place a written statement on the team’s website defending his organization.

Then there was the 2004 Olympics in Athens where Boozer was part of a United States team that failed to win the gold medal, settling for the bronze instead.

For now, Boozer is settling in with his new team, and he couldn’t be happier.

“It was a very eventful summer but I’m definitely looking forward to getting this thing going,” Boozer said in a quiet locker room before Tuesday night’s Sixers-Jazz preseason game. “We’ve had a very good preseason so far. We’re getting better and looking forward to the upcoming season.”

Boozer played two seasons for the Cavaliers and averaged a career-best 15.5 points and 11.4 rebounds per game last season.

What will be the biggest adjustment?

“I don’t know if I can pick one thing,” said the 6-foot-9 Boozer. “It’s a new environment, a different system offensively and defensively. We’ll use different strategies than we did in Cleveland.

“Obviously, we have different personnel, different players, but the most important thing is from the top guy to the bottom guy, everybody wants to win. It’s an incredible organization. I’m just glad to be a part of it.”

Utah coach Jerry Sloan is glad to have Boozer for his low-post presence, rebounding, shot-blocking and defense.

Sloan said he does not look for Boozer to be a savior. He simply wants him to learn.

“Ideally, just come and play,” Sloan said. “We don’t expect him to be anybody else or anything else other than him. Who is he? That’s the question he will answer for us, but not now.

“I don’t expect him to be Shaquille O’Neal or anybody like that. There are a lot of things I think he has to improve on. He has a big body, a strong body and he looks to pass the ball. Players like to play with people who
pass the ball. I think he seems to be an intelligent player.”

Though the United States team has been maligned for not winning the gold medal, Boozer believes that the overall Olympic experience has helped him immensely.

In eight games, he averaged 7.6 points and 6.1 rebounds. Even more important was the day-to-day competition with his teammates and against talented players from other countries.

“I think the great thing about it is I got a lot of experience, and I got to play alongside Tim Duncan,” Boozer said. “I learned a lot from him as far as how to play in the low post. That was a great deal of importance for me as well as playing for Larry Brown, a Hall of Fame coach. I learned a lot from Larry.”

Boozer said he’s anxious to continue learning from his new team.

“I’m ready for the season,” he said. “I’m ready to start playing for real. It was kind of a crazy summer, first with Cleveland, then with the Olympics. I’m ready to settle in with my new teammates and do some great things for
this organization.”

Andy Jasner is a Philadelphia-based freelance writer and a regular contributor to HoopsHype.com

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