About Utah: Hey, Derek, those boos are personal

Published: Wednesday, March 19 2008 12:22 a.m. MDT

According to a report published Sunday in the Sacramento Bee, former Utah Jazz guard Derek Fisher, who will be in EnergySolutions Arena Thursday as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers, is bothered by the boos he hears when he returns to Utah.

Fisher told Bee sports writer Scott Howard-Cooper that it is upsetting that people don't treat him personally:

"As much as you'd like to think as a player that people have a certain connection with you personally or have a certain feeling about who you are as a person, at the end of the day, when you don't play for that team anymore, they don't care about that for the most part."

It is difficult to overstate how far that statement is off the mark, but let's try.

If a good shooter like, say, Derek Fisher, were to stand on the beach and miss the ocean, that might be close.

The reason Jazz fans roundly booed Fisher on his first visit to Utah in November, and why they are expected to follow suit Thursday, is precisely because it is personal.

His statement that the fans don't relate to him personally is as deceptive as his departure last summer when he got the Jazz to release him outright because he needed to move to a place where his daughter's cancer could be treated — and then quickly signed with the Lakers.

You wonder why he didn't share that part of the story with Howard-Cooper.

Few athletes in this state's history have developed a more personal relationship with sports fans than Fisher last year during the playoffs when his infant daughter's cancer was revealed. The Jazz franchise bent over backward to accommodate his needs, and the fans did everything but wrap the Fishers in a warm blanket.

When Fisher returned from the hospital in New York just in time for the final few minutes of a playoff game with Golden State, checked into the game and hit a three, he could have run for mayor, governor and prophet and won at least two out of three.

Who cared if the three wasn't the game-winner? It was a shot, and a moment, locked away forever in Jazz lore.

Then two months later he was gone, ostensibly for all the right reasons, which is why Jazz owner Larry H. Miller, the man who cries at the start of a movie — maybe the most personable sports owner in history — agreed to Fisher's outright release.

It was only later that Miller, along with the rest of us, realized we were holding title to the Brooklyn Bridge.

Fisher doesn't get booed in L.A., and why should he? There, he's a key component on a team once again at the top of the NBA.

For the same reason, Carlos Boozer doesn't get booed in Utah. Only when Boozer returns to Cleveland, where he sucker-punched the Cavs, do the boos come out.

And at that, Boozer's fake-and-go was more honorable than Fisher's. Once he got Cleveland to release him, with the Cavs expecting Boozer to repay the favor by re-signing with them, he was completely above-board about going to the highest bidder.

At least he conducted his betrayal without deception in open daylight.

Unlike Fisher, who to this day continues to feign ignorance as to the real reason fans don't like him here.


Lee Benson's column runs Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Please send e-mail to benson@desnews.com and faxes to 801-237-2527.

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