Last week, while in Australia serving as a spokesperson for the NBA’s first ever league sponsored camp on the continent, former Bull Horace Grant had this to say regarding current Bull Carlos Boozer:
“He has to put his ego aside for the betterment of the team….Boozer needs to be, for lack of a better phrase, Scottie Pippen to a Michael Jordan”
Ok, there is no doubt we can all certainly appreciate his point. The Bulls aren’t paying Booze $15 mil per to have “single singles” in the playoffs, or to frustratingly take and miss fade away jumpers, or better yet, to embarrassingly give phantom high fives.
But….is this a classic case of a goggle wearing pot calling a near sighted kettle “four eyes”?
Yea…or something like that.
Look, Horace was an outstanding power forward; he played hard on both ends of the court, and was a perfect third option on a Bulls team which won three consecutive titles. But…
Somewhere in 1992, Horace Grant decided he didn’t want to be Horace Grant anymore.
He saw Michael and Scottie making the All-Star Team. He saw Michael and Scottie going to represent the U.S. in Barcelona. He saw Michael and Scottie getting the endorsements, the attention. He saw Michael and Scottie being allowed, if not encouraged to miss practice.
He was envious. He was angry. He was tired of being Horace Grant-”Third Wheel”, Horace Grant-name featured late in the story, Horace Grant-Semi-Star.
So if Horace couldn’t be treated like a star, he figured he’d at least act like one. In 1994, while MJ was busy working on making contact with breaking balls, Horace was playing a bigger part in the Bulls success- averaging career highs in points, (15.1) rebounds (11.0) and assists (3.4). That said, Horace’s unhappiness with his contract, and with Bulls management, was a constant storyline throughout the ‘94 campaign-unhappiness which Jerry Reinsdorf felt manifested itself in Grant missing meaningful games.
These games, twelve to be exact, were missed with “unconfirmed injuries” or “blue flu” as Reinsdorf put it, and in the owner’s opinion, cost the team the always pivotal home court advantage throughout the playoffs. Whether due to the lack of home court advantage, or Hue Hollins, or both, the Bulls ended up losing in 7 games to the Knicks in the Semifinals.
That off-season, Grant and the Bulls publicly parted ways in a fashion which would make Kim Basinger and Alec Baldwin proud, and Horace bolted for the up and coming Orlando Magic. Orlando paid Horace 1994 mega-star money-$17 mil over 5 years, enough to certainly satisfy his ego, and moreover buy plenty of blue goggles.
In 1995, Horace and the Magic prevented MJ from having the expedited return to glory he and fans expected, as the Bulls were ousted in six games in the semifinals. Horace of course took this ostensible vindication in stride, no chest pounding or theatrics, just a humble, quiet satisfaction (devoid of ego of course) in his teams success.
Wait no, that didn’t happen at all. This happened: (Go to around 5:03)
BTW-in this game Horace had a Carlos Boozer 2011 Playoff type game: 37 minutes, 6 points, (2-of-8 from the field) and 6 boards.
Following the histrionics, Horace went on to help the Magic get swept by the Rockets in the Finals. O’Neal, Hardaway, and Grant (third on the list again!), enjoyed getting swept so much, they did it again in 1996, only this time to the Bulls and their new trio- Michael, Scottie and Dennis Rodman, Grant’s counterintuitively more mature replacement. That Bulls team of course went on…..well you know..and then..yea you know all that too.
Don’t get me wrong, Horace didn’t exactly flop David Caruso style. He remained solid on the court, and even won a title in 2001 with some guys named Kobe and Shaq. (granted at that point, Horace was lucky to be mentioned in the post game story at all)
But even as his skills diminished, his ego remained remarkably, and inexplicably steroid-strong, just ask Doc Rivers.
So was Grant wrong to publicly lecture Carlos Boozer?
Well Boozer does undoubtedly act and get paid like a star.
And if Grant’s point was that being a star takes more than an inflated ego with a matching salary, well then who could argue with him?
After all, who would know that better than him?
Be Good Friends,