April 25, 2011
Scottie Pippen, who actually works for the Chicago Bulls these days, has taken to criticizing oft-maligned Bulls forward Carlos Boozer(notes) for his play during Chicago's opening-round series against Indiana. And that's the proper thing to do, right?
If Chicago Bulls fans were leery about the signing of scoring forward Carlos Boozer heading into the playoffs, his four-game turn in the 2011 postseason has likely sent those dubious fans over the edge. Not only is the team's highest-paid player shooting just 37.5 percent against the Pacers thus far, but he's turning the ball over 3.5 times per game. These offensive marks go hand-in-hand with his typically terrible defense, which was at least then passable enough during the regular season as Boozer chalked up 17.5-point and 9.6-rebound averages in just 32 minutes of play.
Worse? Boozer was signed to be the type of scorer that finishes plays that weren't drawn up for him in the paint with little muss and/or fuss, and yet Boozer has been terrible finishing around the rim. In short, the guy has been awful, on both ends. And what does Scottie Pippen decide to criticize him on?
Come on, Pip.
''They've all got two legs and two arms,'' the six-time NBA champion said. ''You've got Carlos Boozer out there who's spending fouls and a lot of his fouls are not needed at the time that he's giving them. Those could be hard fouls. Those could be fouls that you knock a [Darren] Collison to the floor, you knock a [Jeff] Foster to the floor.
''Utilize your fouls and make them more valuable for you and your team.''
I … guess?
Listen, for every foul that Boozer racks up, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau's Grinch-y smile grows a little larger. He's just dying to put in the defensive-minded Taj Gibson(notes) in Boozer's stead (though it should be noted that I appreciated the way that Thibs hung with Boozer in the second half during Game 4, with the Bulls needing offense badly, when he could have been the tough guy and sat him), and Boozer piling up the tough fouls helps him in that regard.
But the real issue with Boozer lies in his offensive play. Everyone has given up on his defense, and rightfully so, because it's not coming around. But for him to miss jump hook after lay-up after runner after jumper? There's your issue. Not needless and un-taken fouls on Jeff freakin' Foster.
That said, Scottie Pippen played through back spasms in a finals-deciding game back in 1998 that saw a team trainer literally punching his lower back to drive the discs and muscles and sinew back where it was nearly supposed to go, so I won't completely dismiss the thoughts of a man who absolutely gave it his all.