What's new

Monson - The Anti-Booz


Bringin' the diversity!
Monson: Jefferson is the Anti-Booz


Monson: Jefferson appears to be an anti-Boozer
By Gordon Monson
Tribune Columnist
July 16, 2010 12:08AM

Steve Griffin | The Salt Lake Tribune Al Jefferson is all smiles after being introduced as the newest Jazz player at the Jazz practice facility in Salt Lake City on Thursday.
The anti-Boozer has arrived.

Al Jefferson was introduced at a Jazz news conference Thursday afternoon and, man, what a difference a trade exception makes. Those two players might be proficient low-post scorers and rebounders, but that’s where the similarities slam into a brick wall.

Boozer Inc. was a corporate endeavor.

Al Jefferson is a heap of sincerity.

Carlos never was sure whether he wanted to be in Utah.

Al said “the basketball gods were thinking about me” when they brought him here.

You’re going to like the difference.

It runs past quibbles about personality or character traits, possibly straight through to what matters most in the NBA: wins.

This is it, inside of two words: Jefferson cares.

And three more: Jefferson is genuine.

And four more: Jefferson isn’t selling goods.

And five more: Jefferson isn’t slinging the bull.

He sure didn’t seem to be.

The man could end up being a scoundrel, a chump, a liar. But I doubt it.

Those who saw Jefferson give thoughtful answers to questions posed to him would be surprised if he were. Disingenuous wasn’t the theme of the day, nor was it the backdrop to a bunch of gussied-up responses.

Shocking for a modern Jazz power forward.

Nobody wants to beat down the guy who was here before, while propping up the newcomer, but the former cared much more about his personal investment in himself than his personal investment in his team. Jefferson is a whole other thing.

Here’s why that matters: Teammates pick up on that stuff. They know about concerns regarding financial security, about taking care of No. 1, and that certainly has an important place. But, at some point, a pillar of a team has to have strong, authentic feelings — convictions, really — about winning and sacrificing and paying the competitive price for the guys who are on the court and in the locker room with him.

Jefferson is that.

He was full up with enthusiasm for his new team, his new fans, his new life with the Jazz on Thursday. Get a load of these telling snippets from his introduction:

• “I’m the happiest man in the world.”

• “I’ve been put in a great situation.”

• “It’s just a blessing.”

• “I’m going to do whatever it takes. I’ve got to step up to the plate. … I’m excited for training camp to start. And normally I don’t never say that.”

• “I’m going to do whatever I can, work as hard as I can, so this team can move forward.”

• “I’m just thankful for the opportunity to come here.”

• “I’ve got to come here with my working hat on.”

• “I like to be in the paint, that’s where we get nasty at.”

• “I don’t plan on letting anybody down.”

• “The only thing I can do it lead by example.”

• “It’s going to work out perfect.”

OK, it might not work out perfect, but having Jefferson on the Jazz will work out better for the club than having Boozer did. Boozer had skills. It was his reach beyond his own realm that was always in question.

Jefferson, who was forced to play on bad teams in five of his first six NBA seasons, has skills, too. Now he looks forward to wedging them, any which way, into a greater good.

The 6-foot-10 power forward said he doesn’t mind playing the 5, that he fits into the system here nicely, that he looks forward to playing for Jerry Sloan, and that playing for the Jazz will help him elevate the level of his defense, a level that he acknowledges needs elevating.

He spoke fondly of a hard-scrabble upbringing in Mississippi, telling of how his father died when Jefferson was a baby, but that his grandmothers stepped in to help rear and raise him. He said one grandma was sweet, the other sour, the latter hauling his butt out on the court after high school games, imploring him to work harder.

Bless her heart.

Her grandson averaged 42 points a game that season.

Thursday’s intro wasn’t all grins and giggles, and Jefferson did not feel compelled to gloss over the indiscretions of his past. Of his DUI last year that resulted in a two-game suspension, he said, “It taught me a lesson. It was a stupid mistake. It will never happen again.”

He also, at one juncture, channeled Karl Malone, referring to himself in the third person, insisting Al Jefferson wanted to “show what Al Jefferson can do.”

Al Jefferson’s zeal on this day actually made it palatable.

Deron Williams, who was consulted from start to finish on the deal, is said to be pleased by Jefferson’s arrival. Williams told his new teammate: “I’m going to make you an All-Star.”

Not that that’s a huge concern for Jefferson. When asked whether he cared about his numbers now that he’s with the Jazz, the big man looked disgusted.

“The thing I care about,” he said, “is winning.”
Last edited: