I admit that I had extreme difficulty finding someone to feature today. The fact that we are even discussing which player most deserved a rude greeting upon returning to a former team’s stadium is due to the fact that Manny Ramirez is making his first visit back to Fenway Park tonight, his first appearance there since being traded to the Dodgers at the deadline two years ago. I feel fairly certain that Manny will receive his share of boos over the weekend. But I really can’t write about his situation yet.
So I spent time contemplating the topic. Michael Vick? Nah, he got a fairly mixed reaction on his return trip to Atlanta. I called Sports Geek last night to toss around ideas, as I already knew who Babe Ruthless and Bleacher Fan were going to write about. We tossed around some ideas and finally Sports Geek came up with a name that Bleacher Fan is going to kick himself for not choosing… Carlos Boozer.
Boozer spent the first two years of his career with the Cleveland Cavaliers. After two productive seasons Boozer was set to make $695,000 in the third and final year of his initial rookie contract. Boozer was not happy about making so “little,” so the Cavs agreed to release the exclusive contractual rights to him in exchange for Boozer signing for the club’s full mid-level exception, which would have equaled been about $40M over six years. According to the Cavs, there was a verbal understanding that this was what both sides wanted. Unfortunately for the Cavs, that’s not what happened.
Just days after this verbal agreement was supposedly reached, Boozer signed an offer sheet with the Utah Jazz for $68M over six years. It was an offer that Cleveland had no shot at matching. Apparently Boozer wanted to play with the likes of Andrei Kirilenko and Raja Bell instead of a young LeBron James. And thus, in the blink of an eye, Carlos Boozer left the Cavs, and poor old Cleveland had nothing to show for it. (By the way, would the Cavs have possibly won a title by now with Boozer on the roster? Hmmmmm!).
Obviously, the city of Cleveland, and all Cavs fans, were irate. Then-team owner Gordon Gund issued a letter to fans explaining how the whole situation went down from his perspective. Basically he said that the organization put misguided trust in Carlos Boozer. Boozer became a hated man in Cleveland, a very passionate sports town. He was called a “backstabbing, double-crossing, money-grubbing Judas.”
Boozer claims that no agreement was ever reached with Cleveland. Who knows what really happened, though it is important to note that last year Boozer did actually say to a Chicago radio station, “I’d love to be a part of the Chicago Bulls.” This happened after a trade from Utah was supposedly imminent. The trade never happened, and he still remains with the Jazz.
In his first game back in Cleveland, Boozer deservedly received a rousing chorus of boos and insults thrown at him. Bleacher Fan, were you at this game? Even if you didn’t know the situation with Boozer before reading this debate, wouldn’t you boo him? If you would, you have millions of new friends in the state of Ohio.