CLEVELAND -- Carlos Boozer smiled easily before his first game back in Cleveland. He was ready for whatever Cavaliers fans had to dish out.
"With every 10 fans that miss me there are probably 10 or more that wish they could shoot me," he said.
Boozer played at Cleveland on Saturday night for the first time since he bolted nearly three years ago for more money in Utah.
Fans booed Boozer during his introduction and a derisive chant broke out in the opening seconds. There were more boos when he scored, rebounded and even when he inbounded the ball.
One fan wearing Boozer's old Cavaliers jersey held a sign that read: "This was my best shirt now it's my car rag."
The way Boozer left town has become part of the local sports folklore.
Boozer was due to make $695,000 in the option year of his contract. The Cavaliers declined to exercise the option -- making him a restricted free agent -- in the belief he would accept a six-year deal worth about $38.6 million to remain in Cleveland.
Boozer signed a six-year, $68 million offer sheet from the Utah Jazz. The Cavaliers refused to match the offer, saying they had an agreement with Boozer that if they declined his option, he would remain with the team.
Boozer reiterated again Saturday that there was no such agreement.
"That was illegal. We didn't have that," he said.
Fans probably will never believe him.
"Thanks for being honest. Liar. Liar," read one fan's sign.
Unlike the fans, Boozer, an All-Star who is having his best season, has no ill will toward Cleveland.
"It went down how it went down. That's the past. Both teams have moved on and done very well," he said.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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