How Carlos Boozer Spent His Summer "Vacation"
There are numerous reasons why Clevelanders love Cavaliers forward Carlos Boozer.
Clevelanders love an overachiever and Boozer is definitely that. Chosen in the second round of the 2002 NBA Draft, Boozer put together one of the finest rookie campaigns by a Cavalier since Ron Harper’s first season over 15 years ago.
Clevelanders love a player who loves Cleveland back. Boozer lives in the area year-round. He’s from Juneau, Alaska, so he can take on Northeast Ohio winters with one hand tied behind his back.
Or maybe we just love a guy named “Boozer.”
But our theory at clevelandcavaliers.com is simply that Clevelanders really love a hard worker. And when it comes to that, Carlos Boozer is the James Brown of the basketball business.
Most people’s summer vacation consists of a couple cookouts, maybe some R&R at the pool, and a fireworks display. But aside from being 6-9, 260, Carlos Boozer is not like most people.
When the Cavaliers 2002-03 season came to a close on April 16, Boozer decided to take some time off. So he and his wife went to Puerto Rico for ten days. That was about it for his offseason off time.
After that, a concise look at Boozer’s summer goes something like this: He attended both of the Cavaliers’ Draft events, assisted at the “Seeds of Peace” Camp in Maine, played in both the Orlando and Boston summer leagues, went home to Alaska twice, saw his family in Raleigh, N.C., and visited injured ex-teammate Jay Williams in Chicago. He then returned to Cleveland for daily voluntary workouts which consist of cardio for 20 minutes, weightlifting for 90 minutes, drills on the court for two hours, followed by wind sprints and a pickup game at night.
All this with training camp right around the corner.
“We’re two weeks away and have nine guys here,” Boozer said of the unusually large offseason attendance. “Everybody wants to win and be part of the organization. It’s a great feeling.”
Boozer has seen the madness and surging interest surrounding the Cavaliers this summer. Actually, he’s been right in the middle of most of it.
Here’s a look at how Carlos spent his summer vacation …
Feeling the Draft
Right after Boozer returned from Puerto Rico with his wife, he hooked up with Cavaliers Strength and Conditioning Coach Stan Kellers. That was in mid-May, a few days before the NBA Draft Lottery which was held on May 22.
Champp’s Restaurant and Bar in Valley View hosted a Lottery party and Boozer -- along with Cavaliers greats Austin Carr, Campy Russell and Larry Nance -- was there for the white-knuckle moments and subsequent celebration.
“We counted down and luckily got the top pick. We knew we were going to take LeBron so it was just a matter of counting down the days.”
Boozer spent a lot of time at the Gund as the month-long countdown to Draft night continued, working out potential second-rounders with the new coaching staff.
When the big night in June finally arrived, Boozer once again joined the former Cavalier luminaries along with owner Gordon Gund and a few thousand fired-up fans.
“It was crazy,” laughed Boozer. “It was packed. Gordon came down. We had a lot of things here for the kids to jump around on. Then the draft came on around 8 o’clock and the place went crazy. That was a great night for the Cavaliers.”
Not many athletes can honestly say they contributed to world peace between seasons. But Boozer – along with pro ballers Brent Barry, Jason and Jarron Collins, T.J. Ford, and Brian Scalabrine – can say exactly that.
Encouraged by his agent, Arn Tellem, Boozer worked the “Seeds of Peace” international camp in Maine. The summer camp, founded in 1993, focuses primarily on kids from the Middle East, but its programs have expanded to include other regions of conflict. It was once featured in a segment on “60 Minutes.”
“I just started doing it last year before my rookie season. I did it again this year and I think I’ll do it every year,” Boozer explained. “Back home they’re all at war with each other. These kids are future prime ministers and future leaders of their countries.
“They have ‘co-existence meetings’ where they put about 10-12 of them in a room together and let them work out their issues, It’s typically Israeli and Palestinian kids. And they’re hanging out with people they’re literally at war with. They’re between 12-17 years old, so they’re at that good age where they can still form solid relationships. It’s important to do well there, for the kids.”
The pro athletes try to give the campers a break from the issues. And as the NBA becomes more global every day, the kids really respond to Boozer and Co.
“The great thing about it is they do get a chance to bond with each other and play basketball and some other things like archery and rope climbing and swimming. It’s beautiful. At the end of camp they head down to D.C. and get a tour of the White House.”
After his “Seeds of Peace” experience, Boozer made a pair of cross-continental trips back to his home state of Alaska.
“I went back to Alaska couple times,” Boozer began. “I’m sponsored by Sprite and Subway. So I made some subs for some fans in Ketchikan and Ancorage. Played basketball with the kids, signed some autographs. Then I got to go back to Juneau for about five days to visit some friends and my high school coach.”
From there, it was back East to visit his family in Raleigh, N.C. They moved there after Boozer’s sophomore season at Duke. (Boozer’s younger brother is the 25th ranked high school sophomore cager in the country.
His older sister is graduating from Westminster Choir College on the Princeton campus this year. “I can’t sing,” Boozer jokes, “and don’t ask me to.”)
Somewhere between his visit with family and friends, Boozer took some time to see ex-Blue Devil teammate and current Chicago Bull, Jay Williams, who was critically injured in a motorcycle accident on June 19. Williams suffered career-threatening injuries to his leg and pelvis in the one-vehicle crash.
“I spent about a week with Jay Williams. He’s walking with a walker. But his spirits are high. The doctors have given every indication that he’ll be able to return to basketball. We don’t know how his quickness and athleticism will be but we know he’ll be able to play again. And the Bulls are honoring his contract. So he’s doing alright.”
Back to the Business of Basketball
Boozer returned to the court with a vengeance. Most players who put up numbers like Boozer did in 2002-03 wouldn’t play in their team’s summer league games. (He ranked in the top 20 in six major statistical categories; third in the entire NBA in FG percentage.) Most summer league attendees are rookies or free agents. Boozer will have none of that.
“I love playing,” Boozer said. “What am I gonna do? Sit at home? I’ll probably play again next year. I just like to play.
“We had LeBron, who got a lot of attention. But people wanted to play with him and get used to what he likes to do. D. Miles played. Dajuan played. DeSagana played. We had a lot of guys who didn’t have to play who played. There's a new coaching staff and we wanted to get used to the system a little ahead of time. And it was a lot of fun. We went to Orlando and Boston. It was good for the chemistry aspect.”
When training camp rolls around in just over two weeks, Boozer may actually get a break. As hard as he’s worked in offseason, he’ll work even harder on the court in 2003-04. Normal NBA players worry about a sophomore jinx. Carlos Boozer is not your normal NBA player.