Carlos Boozer Exclusive

Paul M. Banks has an exclusive with the NBA All-Star and Olympic Gold Medalist Carlos Boozer.

Booze is a two time NBA All-Star and member of last year’s All-NBA Third team. Boozer also won a Bronze medal in Athens during the 2004 Olympic games. Since his 2002-03 NBA All-Rookie team season, Boozer has finished the season among the league’s top ten performers in field goal percentage five times and top ten rebounders twice.

He is known for his strength, rebounding and offensive skill set., lists Boozer among the “game’s best post players” and among the best at scoring (or “finishing”) under the basket with either hand Boozer credits his father for helping him develop his ambidextrous ability.

In the 2006-07 NBA season, Boozer appeared in the NBA Fundamentals series hosted by TNT, in which NBA players explain certain aspects of basketball. He explained the topic “post play”. In this clip, Boozer highlighted the technique of how to establish position in the low post, and how to most effectively score from that position. Boozer showcased his array of ambidextrous slam dunks and hook shots, and reminded viewers to insert an occasional jump shot to confuse the opponent. He also expressed his admiration of retired NBA greats Karl Malone and Charles Barkley, who he sees as masters of low post scoring.

I recently sat down with him in Milwaukee and opened the interview by asking him to describe his Gold Medal winning experience in Beijing. “I’ll tell you the same thing everyone is going to tell you, it was amazing, we had a goal set in mind and I think for all of us, the players, coaches, staff all included it was probably the biggest thing we’ve been a part of in sports,” Boozer responded.

I asked Booze if he would do it again in 2012…“Absolutely, it’s an honor anytime you get to wear USA across your chest,”…and later to describe what it’s like taking the court in the NBA against someone who was previously your teammate in representing America.

“We’re like brothers, all of us have a special bond; we’re all very close. We stay in touch and talk all the time now, just because of the experience we went through, and the team that brought back pride to USA basketball,” Boozer responded.

What are your thoughts on Chicago as a sports town and Olympic host?

“Huge sports town, great fans very committed, great venue, great to have it here in the states, we haven’t had it since Atlanta. And I think it would be well received, we’d have a great turnout here I think, other countries love to come play here”

It helps that the international icon of basketball, Michael Jordan made his name for himself there….

“Absolutely, and I had a chance to see the plan, they have a great plan for it too”

Brian Campbell Talks About All-Star Game & Break

By Paul M. Banks

Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brian Campbell was the leading vote-getter among Western Conference blue-liners for the NHL All-Star game in Montreal. This will be his third all-star appearance, in 2007 he was the leading vote getter among Eastern Conference defensemen or “defencemen” as they would say in his native Strathroy, Ontario.

In 07-08 Brian led the league in games played as one of only two players to appear in 83 games, or one more than a team’s full schedule, as based on his trade to San Jose (the other being Jeff Halpern. On Canada Day, Campbell signed an 8 year contract with the Chicago Blackhawks for roughly 7.1 million dollars a year. Fox Chicago reported that Campbell chose to sign with the Blackhawks despite allegedly receiving better contract offers from other organizations.

After the final game of the first half of the season, “Soupy” spoke openly about All-Star experiences and his thoughts on the state of his current team

On partaking in the NHL All-Star Game experience…

“It’s exciting I played in the last two, and they were in Atlanta and Dallas, and they’re not the biggest hockey hotbeds…so Montreal is really something that I’m looking forward to. It’s always fun to spend with your parents, and my brother and sister-in-law are coming down, so it’ll be fun to enjoy that spend some time with four teammates as well and I’m going to try and take home that car”

What it means to get his family involved in the All-Star fanfare…

“For me when your Mom and Dad sacrifice everything in the world for you to get myself, and my two brothers, and for them to go in and enjoy it and to see the smiles on their faces, it’s great. I know the NHL has a cooking class, my mom’s so excited about that. She loves those sort of things, so they can enjoy a weekend like that and obviously for the work they’ve done and obviously they are proud of myself for my accomplishments.”

On becoming a regular fan of the hockey, not just a player during the All-Star game…

“It’s fun to go with guys from your team and get autographs from other players, and something special to look back upon later in life and obviously we’re starting and we owe a lot of that to our fans who’ve been great all year long.”

Discussing his habit of collecting memorabilia from other All-Stars…

“I’ve gotten jerseys signed by everybody. I’d like to get the team stuff signed, I think it’ll be fun to play with Scott Niedermayer I need to get something from him signed I’ve looked up to him a lot, you try to collect things, I’ve got a stick already signed by Pat Kane and Jonathan, and myself, so you know that’s something that’ll be going up on the wall back home or here in Chicago.”

Giving a possible reason as to why the Hawks are now in this current funk…

“I think we’re working hard, were just not working hard and smart at the same time. I think we’re not in the right lanes sometimes or out of position or maybe we’re working too hard- you got to play it with your head too. You can’t just go out there and run around.”

Opining about the big 8 game road trip coming up and the psychology surrounding the prospect of the facing the next few weeks with little or no home games…

“You look at the schedule, you study it, you know the advantage, obviously it’s to your advantage to be playing at home, especially before you go on a long road trip and we have to be better and accountable for each other, we’re professionals here.”

Tubby Time at TSB

By Paul M. Banks and Rikki Greenberg

Orlando “Tubby” Smith is currently the men’s basketball head coach at the University of Minnesota. Smith previously served in the same role at the University of Tulsa, the University of Georgia, and most recently, University of Kentucky. Smith’s coaching has had an immediate impact on the previously inept Gophers squad. The team went from 8–22 in 2006-2007 to 20–14 in 2007-2008.

Smith also led his Golden Gophers to the Big Ten Tournament semi-finals after defeating 2nd seeded Indiana. Coach Smith also harvested a top 25 recruiting class, the best in years for the program. In 2008, Smith had the highest salary of any employee of the State of Minnesota.

The legendary coach’s resume includes a national title, 5 SEC Championships, and three coach of the year awards. My apprentice Rikki and I asked him a few questions after his team got upset by Northwestern.

Coming off an emotional win at Wisconsin, his team displayed a lack of energy at Northwestern, especially in the second half. Tubby talked about why they possibly had a (please excuse the horrible cliché) “trap” game.

“You got to be able to match the level of intensity and if you don’t, you’re not going to win. I think the guys tried and we went to a line up, we tried a lot of different defensive adjustments and changing our defensive ability. I know we played hard and with energy. We’re a good team, but we don’t have that guy to take over and dominate the inside.”

In the midst of his presser, a spider dropped in on the podium. Tubby commented on the unsuspecting party crasher
“It’s a good sign right? (laughter ensues) Even he’s got the best of the Gophers! I’m going to crush him.”

You go man!

A reporter there asked him “whether or not the loss to Northwestern was a good thing for the team?” (que? Huh? What? Why?)

“Oh no, I don’t think there is any good time for a loss, but if there’s one time to be had certainly to get one behind a good win. I think it was a real attention getter for our guys…to understand how hard they have to prepare and play and I thought that was important. We played a lot of guys so we should have found that combination, but we couldn’t.”

Finally, Tubby commented on how NU plays a “unique brand of basketball” with their Princeton set on offense and their 1-3-1 zone on defense. Mr. Banks (not Lacey Banks of the Chicago Sun-Times, but our own Mr. Banks) asked him what the biggest difference between the current Northwestern team is from the NU team Minnesota played last year, and in what areas they improved the most from last year…

“Northwestern doesn’t win a lot of games and they’ve battled through some of the toughest teams in the league. Today they looked they corrected some things I saw on the tape. A lot of it had to with shots…a lot of lay-ups and when you don’t shoot well, your problems get magnified.”