COMMENTARY | Chicago Bulls forward Carlos Boozer had 28 points and 14 rebounds Wednesday in a win against the Phoenix Suns, and he did not change anybody's mind with that performance.
Bulls fans should have a love-hate relationship with Boozer; love his offense, hate his defense. But they can't even muster up love for his offensive game.
The problem could be seen throughout Wednesday's game. Boozer scored 16 of his points in the first quarter. Even when he has good games, they aren't good four-quarter efforts. He is seen as a player who disappears in the fourth quarter, even when he plays, which is not often, since his coach, Tom Thibodeau, likes to have his best defensive players on the floor at the end of the game. Boozer doesn't qualify.
(A quick aside: somebody who HAD to be kidding voted for Boozer for the NBA All-Defensive team last season. It was suggested Boozer wouldn't make the All-Defensive first five on his own team.)
In the overtime period Wednesday, the Bulls were up by six points with two minutes to go and Joakim Noah found Boozer open underneath the basket. If he scored, the game would be sealed. But Boozer went up for a dunk and didn't get high enough; the ball touched rim but didn't get over the top. Then he got the rebound and tried a floater that got knocked away.
Bulls fans hate that stuff. Boozer is a big man who scores most often on fadeaway floaters. He's a power forward without power.
But, some will say, he did score 28 points against the Suns, right? That fact underscores just why he is not a fan favorite in Chicago.
The Phoenix Suns are the symbolic representation of the run-and-gun Western Conference, and it was in the Western Conference where Boozer thrived while with the Utah Jazz. He should still be in the Western Conference. He's not built for Eastern Conference basketball.
Look for Boozer to have a couple more good games on the West Coast road trip. Then look for him to come home in December and continue to disappoint Bulls fans, no matter how many points he scores.
Hinrich, too, has his detractors in Chicago, although I was never sure why. During his first lengthy stint with the Bulls, Hinrich did everything you could imagine a relatively short white guy can do: he played tough defense, he hit the floor when necessary, and he hit enough outside shots to set the team record for 3-pointers in a career.
But a lot of Bulls fans (including one relatively well-known fan with his own radio show) never took a liking to him. I could never figure out why. Was it because he was a combo guard, not a pure "1" or a pure "2"? Was it because he was playing Michael Jordan's position and not doing it as well? Is that what people expected from him?
Now he is the starting point guard while the Bulls wait for Derrick Rose to make it back from injury. He shoots less now than he did his first time with the Bulls. But he's still the same tough-nosed player. It's coincidental but notable that he resembles famed Bulls guard Jerry Sloan physically and with his effort. But he has never gotten the same kind of love Sloan had as a player or a coach.
Bulls fans need something to love in the absence of Rose. Most of them immediately discard two choices in Boozer and Hinrich. They must have their reasons.
Kent McDill has covered the Bulls for three different companies: for United Press International from 1985-88, for the Daily Herald newspaper in Arlington Heights, Ill., from 1988-99 and currently for NBA.com. He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title "100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die'' published by Triumph Books.