SEATTLE - Utah Jazz forward and Juneau-Douglas High School graduate Carlos Boozer knows all too well about family, both on and off the court.
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Boozer hit the game-winning basket with 17.6 seconds left on the clock Friday to lift Utah to a 103-101 victory over the winless SuperSonics in Seattle. Boozer currently leads the team in scoring and rebounding as Utah has surged to a Northwest Division-best 5-2 record.
"When you've been together for as long as some us have been here (in Utah), there is no need to panic," Boozer said after Friday's win. "We know each other and each other's moves and strengths."
Boozer led all scorers with 27 points in the win. He also pulled down a game-high 15 rebounds and dished out four assists.
In addition to his teammates on the court, the former Crimson Bears' star is very close to his own family off the court.
Boozer, in his sixth NBA season out of Duke University, stayed behind in Miami as training camp started to tend to his son, Carmani. Carlos' 1-year-old son was being treated for sickle cell disease, a blood disorder that affects the proteins found in red blood cells that help carry oxygen to the body. Carmani underwent chemotherapy and a bone-marrow transplant. Stem cells taken from the umbilical cord of his wife, CeCe, were used in the process. Carlos and CeCe's twins, Cameron and Cayden, were born July 18.
Carmani has since been released from a Miami hospital.
"I would like to thank all the people in Juneau for their prayers and support during this time," Carlos Boozer said. "I appreciate everyone's support."
Carlos, who will turn 26 a week from Tuesday, said his real family comes before his Jazz basketball family.
"Carmani is doing fine," said Boozer. "It was a family matter that needed to be tended to."
"Family is never a distraction, they're family," he said. "Family comes first."
Boozer, now beginning his fourth season with Utah, said he feels great. The forward enjoyed a breakout season last year, playing 74 games while posting a career-high 25.4 points and 12.6 rebounds per game. His 74 regular season games were the most he's played in a season since his final year with Cleveland in 2003-04.
"My legs are fine," Boozer said. "I'm doing good, I feel great physically. I also feel good being a leader of this team. I thrive on being a leader. I enjoy the role."
The NBA power-forward also heads a family-oriented program called "Boozer's Buddies" that provides 50 tickets per home game for different youth organizations.
On the court, Boozer feels there's room for improvement despite the hot start.
"We have great chemistry and energy to feed off one another, but defensively we need to get better," Boozer said. "We have to learn how to finish close games.
"In the game of life, part of growing up is that you have to make mistakes in order to improve."
With his family life, both on and off the court, in balance, Boozer appears ready for another standout season.
His original hometown, Juneau, still remains part of his family and life.
"I hope to get up to Alaska this summer and see many of my friends again," Boozer said.
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