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News » Christmas giving in the NBA

Christmas giving in the NBA

Christmas giving in the NBA
A few of the Christmas gifts I would, if I could, give on Thursday:

Gift to Carlos Boozer: A heart.

It seems the Utah Jazz's talented power forward needs a new ticker just as much -- or maybe more -- than the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz. Everyone knows Boozer is a great player -- when healthy. The problem is that many people, including Jazz broadcaster "Hot" Rod Hundley, have questioned whether he is milking his most recent injury, a "strained left quad tendon" that has caused him to miss more than a month on the court. He's missed 17 games now.

Then, being positively Grinch-like to Jazz fans just before Christmas, Boozer told an reporter this week that he plans to opt out of the final year of his contract so that he can get a raise. While opting out may well be his best course of action, talking about it in New Jersey in December while sitting out with what some feel is a dubious injury wasn't very savvy on the public relations front. Jazz owner Larry Miller was blunt, as usual, during a radio interview on 1320 AM. Miller called Boozer's talking about opting-out "one of the top 10 stupidest things I've ever heard an NBA player do in 24 years."


Boozer won't get much sympathy from working class Jazz fans, many of whom have had to accept pay cuts -- or may even be out of work, like the Utah Blaze players -- thanks to these tough economic times. Boozer is scheduled to earn "only" $12.7 million next year for playing Basketball -- or not playing, as the case may be since he's proven to be injury prone.

Still, a man's got to put food on the table, so it's no wonder he's so desperate for a raise, right?

Gift to Paul Millsap: Boozer's paychecks for the past month.

Nobody will accuse Utah's undersized power forward Millsap about a lack of heart. He's been putting up Boozer-like numbers while starting in Boozer's place. And Millsap has been doing this by playing for relative pennies to Boozer's dollars.

Millsap is the lowest-paid player on the Jazz roster. It's true. Now, no one should feel sorry for him because he'll still pocket nearly $800,000 this season. But that's less than even Kosta Koufos, Morris Almond and Kyrylo Fesenko take home.

Let's put it this way: Millsap makes $9,856 per outing for the 82-game season. Not a bad living if you can get it.

But by comparison, Boozer makes $141,388 per game for the 82-game season. That means Boozer makes $131,532 more than Millsap -- and that's per game.

So, in the past month, Millsap has earned $167,552 while averaging 17.9 points and 11.1 rebounds as a Jazz starter.

Boozer, in the past month, has earned -- or made, anyway -- more than $2.4 million averaging 0.0 points and 0.0 rebounds while looking good in designer suits and doing a little color commentary with Craig Bolerjack and Ron Boone on the TV broadcasts.

It hardly seems fair.

Gift to NBA owners and general managers: A little patience with coaches.

It's been downright ugly this season. Already six -- count 'em, six -- NBA coaches have been fired. The Wizards, Raptors, 76ers, Thunder, Timberwolves and Kings have all axed their head coaches. That's twice as many as the previous pre-Christmas record.

But that's less than half the story. Eight teams changed coaches last summer after the end of the 2007-08 season. That means 14 of the 30 NBA teams have a coach with less than half of a season of experience with his current team.

Gift to the city of Seattle: A new NBA team.

Seattle has been known for many great (and a few not-so-great) contributions to our country over the years like the Space Needle, flannel fashions, Kurt Cobain, Starbucks, "Frasier" and the SuperSonics.

It simply just doesn't seem right that the Sonics are no more. Washington Basketball fans, who supported that team through good and bad times for more than 40 years, deserved better. They should get a new team.

Gift to Oklahoma City: An NBA team.

Oklahoma City did such a great job of giving the New Orleans Hornets a temporary home in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina that they should get their own expansion NBA franchise.

What's that? You say Oklahoma City already has an NBA team? Really? How'd I miss that one?

My bad.

I could have sworn the Oklahoma City Thunder was a minor-league franchise. It just sounds like one of those old CBA team names before Isiah Thomas ran that league into the ground. Sorry.

Then again, judging by its 3-24 record, the Thunder is about like having a minor-league franchise in your city.

Gift to LeBron James: The Maurice Podoloff Trophy.

Kevin Garnett, the best player on the NBA's best team, already has an MVP award (2003-04). Kobe Bryant, the best player on the league's second-best team, got his Podoloff Trophy last season.

Now it's James' turn. He's been better than ever in leading the Cavaliers to the rank of super power along with the Celtics and Lakers. Barring injury or some other unforeseen factor, LeBron won't be getting his first MVP award for Christmas, but he will be getting one in the spring.

Gift to the Cleveland Cavaliers: LeBron James' signature on a new contract.

There is no question that many teams, the New York Knicks being the most obvious, are clearing cap space in order to make a run at James when he becomes a free agent.

But wouldn't it be nice if King James stayed in his home state playing for a mid-sized market club? He'd still get the max contract and plenty of endorsement deals in Cleveland and the loyalty to his current team would be refreshing.

Gift to the Detroit Pistons: A do-over on the trade with the Nuggets.

The math is simple. Detroit was 4-0 this season with Chancey Billups as the starting point guard.

They are 10-10 with Allen Iverson in the lineup.

So they got "The Answer" in a trade with Denver. Unfortunately for them, the question was, "How can the Pistons instantly become worse?"

Gift to Jerry Sloan: An NBA coach of the year award.

Sloan says he doesn't care about it and everyone believes him. Still, it seems like a travesty of justice that in 20 successful seasons as the boss of the Jazz, Sloan has never won the coach of the year honor. Think about some of the recent winners and it becomes even more surprising that Sloan has never been the coach of the year. Avery Johnson won for the 2005-06 season and has already been fired by Dallas. Sam Mitchell won the following year with the Raptors, and he's gone, too.

No, the NBA's coach of the year award isn't about lifetime achievement. Still, Sloan should get his due sometime. Why not now?

Gift to NBA fans: Lower ticket and concession prices, always exciting games and players consistently giving their best effort -- even during the regular season.

Yeah, this won't be the case. But it's a nice ideal along the lines of "peace on earth."

Merry Christmas, everyone. (Except Chris Buttars, R-West Jordan. To him, I say, "Happy Holidays" just because I know it offends him so.) E-mail:

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: December 22, 2008


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