Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to have people write about my performance every day. How about a radio show that features people who call in to comment on what I should or shouldn’t have done?
Tonight was one of those nights.
First, the Carlos Boozer Redemption Tour rolled on, with Booz racking up 33 points and 16 rebounds in the home win for the Jazz. The rest of the team looked like they were playing in mud to start the game. The Bobcats had no answer for Boozer as he punished them inside with 11 points and 6 rebounds in the first quarter and scored another 16 in the pivotal third quarter when the Jazz fought back to take control of the game.
After the game it was all love for big Booz as the cameras and microphones crowded around his locker. A far cry from the man who was persona non grata just a few short months ago. On this night, Boozer responded to praise from Jerry Sloan and Deron Williams and showed appreciation for the fans who were chanting “Bring… Back… Booze.”
On the other side of the room, CJ Miles was his usual friendly self, but his 1-10 shooting performance was clearly on his mind. Miles played 30 minutes and ended up with 4 points and 1 rebound. He’s only hit 7 shots in the last three games combined.
The emotion boiled over after the game as CJ responded to a Jazz fan on Twitter:
bro to be honest I kno I’m playing bad u think I havnt been in Tha gym u think I like this feeling and I couldn’t tell u Tha last time I rapped …… Which Is why u rarely see me tweet about it I’ve been trying I really have I put in Tha xtra shots and time I’m just not playing good and I do apologized to all my fans and the organization I really mean that
and it’s hard becuz I don’t kno how to handle it I’m mentally goin crazy over this I’ve have Neva been in a position where I could find a way to perform basketball wise this had been Tha hardest year of prolly my life mentally I built myelf so much preparing for this season over Tha summer and to prove i really belonged here and to see it thrown away with an injury really hurt me and then Tha pressure I put on myself not to mention Tha pressure from everywhere else to get back to where I was is basically driving me nuts because all I wanna do is play well and help Tha team it’s not about money or recognition I truly love to play basketball which why I will continue to work and I promise I will be betta it’s just been tuff but once again I apologize for my play to all Tha fans I am better and will be better
In his fifth season with Jazz, it’s hard to believe Miles is only 22 years old. It doesn’t matter how much money someone makes, any 22 year-old would have a difficult time handling that kind of pressure and critique. At 22 I was falling asleep in organic chemistry classes and doing the New York Times crossword puzzle while sitting on floor at the back of my crowded 8am economics lecture because I couldn’t drag myself out of bed on time. What if I would have had to face reporters after each class?
“It looked like you drew the outline of each western state and then surrounded it with ‘The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog’ written in 10 different handwritten fonts. Talk about that decision.”
“You seem to struggle with every crossword puzzle after Wednesday, even though you sit next to a girl who speaks French and gives you all the answers to the pretentious late-week questions. When can we expect you to finish the whole puzzle?”
Forgive the personal narrative, but it’s hard to ignore the human side of the players while we watch them succeed and fail in real time. On Wednesday night the sting of the shooting slump for Miles was accentuated by the break-out night by his replacement, the crowd favorite Kyle Korver. After a slow start by the rest of the team, Korver came in off the bench to score 18 points and hit 5 of 6 three point shots, each one of which drove the crowd into a frenzy. The psychological drama was on full display in the second half when Miles jacked up a heat-check 3-point attempt from 30 feet away after Korver hit back-to-back threes, demonstrating an interesting attempt at basketball alchemy. The shot rimmed out.
Moving away from armchair psychology and back to basketball, there were some nice performances from Jazz players despite the slow start. After sitting out the last game with an injury, Deron Williams put together a solid night with a 20 point, 12 assist double double. Boozer and Korver had the aforementioned solid games, and even Kyrylo Fesenko put together a solid, if not stat-impressive, performance.
The true performance from Fes came in the locker room after the game. Fesenko holds court in the corner and makes jokes in barely intelligible English while reporters wait for the other players to arrive. Much like his game, his jokes don’t really translate to paper. But I’ve always said, any Ukrainian 7-footer with the comedic timing to use his Greek-American teammate as a straight man and keep an entire room laughing can be a star in any reality show. I once asked his former agent why there isn’t a camera crew following Fes around 24/7 and he just laughed and said “Let’s get him a second contract and then talk.” Sound business advice, but it’s our loss in the meantime.
The theatrics and flopping by Gerald Wallace were just embarrassing. You’d think a man who almost single-handedly created case for the prosecution in the class-action lawsuit Fans Who Paid $500 to Watch a Horrible Dunk Contest v. The NBA would be a little more circumspect about demonstrating his apparent contempt of the game. Wallace mailed in the most uninspired 27 points I’ve seen since Vince Carter. The obvious talent is overshadowed by some kind of cloud that he seems to be trying to shake off with the stumbling and tumbling that gives him the nickname “Crash.”
Tyrus Thomas accidentally removed his jersey while taking off his warmups to check in to the game. He was left standing at mid-court in his shorts and a black tank top while someone retrieved the shirt from his jacket. He finally got the shirt on while lining up on the block for a free thrown attempt by a teammate. One more reason it’s probably a good thing the Jazz didn’t pull the trigger on that Boozer-for-Thomas trade with Chicago everybody was talking about this summer. Jerry Sloan would have been apoplectic.
Up Next: Friday at Sacramento, 8pm Mountain Time.