Carlos Boozer motivated by critics

DEERFIELD, Ill. -- Chicago Bulls power forward Carlos Boozer said he is ready to prove his critics wrong.

"Criticism is all in how you take it," Boozer said Wednesday afternoon. "At the end of the day, some people take criticism the wrong way. I take it as motivation. Criticism motivates you. That's the way I've been my whole career. And I'm very motivated, to say the least."

After signing a five-year deal worth almost $80 million last summer, Boozer missed the first month of the season after breaking his hand. He came back and averaged 17.5 points and 9.6 rebounds to help the Bulls earn the No. 1 seed in the playoffs with a 62-20 record.

But Boozer's scoring average dipped to 12.6 in the postseason as he battled turf toe. The lack of another offensive weapon to share the burden with MVP Derrick Rose was widely viewed as the reason the Bulls couldn't get past the Miami Heat, who won the Eastern Conference finals in five games.

"I was able to look at some of the things I didn't do well and go in the gym and work on them and be better for this year," Boozer said. "I'll leave it broad like that. This year I want to play better 'D,' be more efficient offensively, be a better leader, a better teammate and do whatever it takes for our team to win."

Boozer said after healing up for several weeks, he spent time training in Miami, among other places. He looks to be noticeably slimmer than he was at the end of last season. The 6-9 forward was listed at 266 pounds last season. Boozer believes the experiences he and his teammates had at the end of last season will help them grow as a team this year.

"We were in every game (in the conference finals), and we lost them," he said. "But with the group that we had we were in every game and had chances to win those games. Do I believe we can beat them with the group [we have]? Yeah, I do."

Boozer was quick to point out that as much as his team can grow from its postseason experience, it also must not focus too much on the past.

"That's last year," he said. "If you could go back in a time machine and go back and play it again then, yeah, but you can't. You've got to remember, we've grown, they've grown too, I'm sure from their losses and the experiences they've had. That's history. All we can do now is take what we've learned from that series and take what we've learned in the playoffs in general, and use the criticism to grow. Use the failure to grow."

To that point, Boozer seems to have taken a pep talk from executive vice president John Paxson to heart. Paxson told the team it must go through a growing experience to ultimately get to where it wants to go.

"You took at the (great Bulls teams in history), all those wars that they had with Detroit, then they finally broke through," Boozer said. "Pax talked to us about it at the end of last season, all those wars they had with Detroit before they finally broke through and beat the Lakers. That's how you grow. You go through defeats. And you learn from your mistakes and you become better and you let those mistakes motivate you. You do what you do good, you do that better. And then your shortcomings, or the mistakes that you make, you get better at those and make those your strengths and then you become a better team. And that was our goal."