Carlos Boozer saw a lot of things during his lengthy NBA career, but perhaps nothing was like when Cleveland Cavaliers teammate Ricky Davis shot at his own basket in an effort to get the rebound he needed to complete a triple-double.
In the final seconds of a game against the Utah Jazz in March 2003, Davis had 26 points and 12 assists but just nine rebounds. With the Cavs up by 25 points, Davis received an inbounds pass and instead of dribbling out the clock, headed toward his own basket. He put a layup off the rim and grabbed the ball in search of that final rebound for the triple-double.
Not only did he not get credit for the rebound, but he was angrily fouled by DeShawn Stevenson of the Jazz, made two free throws to finish with 28 points and incurred the wrath of Utah coach Jerry Sloan after the Cavaliers’ 122-95 win.
“He shot at the wrong basket,” Sloan said. “He was trying to embarrass somebody by doing that. DeShawn fouled him. I would have fouled him too. I would have knocked him on his a–. You try to embarrass a team after a 20-point lead, you’re God damn right, I’d knock him down.”
Sloan had a reputation as a tough-minded former player and likely would have taken matters into his own hands had he been on the court. Though he did not blame Cavaliers head coach Keith Smart for Davis’ selfish actions, Sloan definitely didn’t appreciate what happened.
“When you got a 20-point lead on a team and you try to embarrass them like that?” Sloan said. “This is not schoolyard basketball. These guys are getting paid. I was glad DeShawn tried to knock him down. They can put me in jail or whatever they want for saying that, but that’s what it is.”
Boozer was asked about the weird circumstance recently and claimed he didn’t know what was about to happen. He was just a rookie in the 2002-03 season and playing for a team that would finish 17-65 after firing head coach John Lucas during the campaign.
“We had no idea,” Boozer said when asked if Davis told him what he was planning. “I had no idea what Rick was doin’. Rick was probably one of the more talented guys I played with in the league. But he was very hungry for a triple-double that night.”
Davis was traded by the Cavaliers to the Boston Celtics during the next season and ended his NBA career in 2010 without ever achieving a triple-double. Boozer finished a second and final campaign for Cleveland before moving on to the Jazz. He ended his 13-season NBA career with the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2014-15 campaign.
“I got a lotta love for Rick, but that was a moment that was like, ‘Come on man,'” Boozer said. “… For all the guys that got triple-doubles the hard-working way, like the Russell [Westbrook], the guys that really do it, that was disrespectful to them. So I was like, ‘Come on man.'”
The event from more than 20 years ago is humorous to look back on now, and Boozer didn’t reveal any hard feelings about it. But it’s easy to see why Sloan and the Jazz reacted the way they did as Davis put his individual pursuit over the spirit of the game.