If you are a religious “SportsCenter’s Not Top 10” viewer, love wasting valuable study time perusing NBA blooper videos on YouTube or have become acquainted with NBA Memes, you undoubtedly know who Brian Scalabrine is.
Standing six feet nine and weighing in at a generous 235 pounds, the Long Beach native is arguably one of the most popular players in the Association, yet he hardly ever touches the hardwood.
Scalabrine was drafted 34th overall in the 2001 NBA Draft, which includes current All-Stars like Pau Gasol, Joe Johnson, Gerald Wallace and Tony Parker as well as notorious duds like Kwame Brown.
And while even a “bust” like Kwame Brown boasts far more impressive numbers than Scalabrine, the “White Mamba” is beloved around the league, whereas Kwame is constantly labeled a disappointment.
His red hair, rotund frame and camera-friendly pre-game squat thrusts make him a must-see attraction throughout the entire NBA and at an 11-year average of 13 minutes per game, it is popularly believed that he has the highest jersey sale to playing time ratio since Naismith decided to cut a hole in the peach basket.
Needless to say, an NBA without “Scal” would be incomplete, and here’s why:
1. He looks like the average American, just elevated-
When fans see the high-flying acrobatics of LeBron James, the speed and agility of Russell Westbrook and the cannonball shoulders of Dwight Howard, they develop a sense of separation from the game. Scalabrine’s lack of foot speed, occasional mental errors and sedentary nature during games draws fans in because barring his height advantage, he resembles the typical middle-aged sports enthusiast watching the game from home. Each and every one of us can see a few of our own characteristics in a thirty-three year-old man who has started less than 12 percent of the NBA games he’s played.
2. He’s had his few signature moments-
Despite averaging only 3.1 points per game on the career, Scalabrine’s career defining moment in the 2004 Eastern Conference Finals will forever overshadow these statistics. In Game 5 of a hotly contested series against the Pistons, the eventual NBA champions, Scalabrine, at this time a member of the Nets, found himself in the game after starters Kenyon Martin and Jason Collins had both fouled out. Contributing with 23 minutes off the bench, Scalabrine was 6 of 7 from the field, including 4 of 4 from 3-point range in a triple-overtime victory. He sank a key 3-pointer in triple OT to seal the deal for the Nets and finished with a career-high 17 points. The performance is listed as an Honorable Mention in the “NBA’s 60 Greatest Playoff Moments.”
3. He’s a likeable guy-
One of the main reasons fans are chanting “SCALA-BRINE” every time the Bulls are winning by a generous margin and every time he touches the ball is because of his personality. While most players would lie about staying in contact with former teammates following their departure from a team, “Scal” did exactly opposite after he left the Celtics, jokingly explaining to a reporter that it doesn’t count as “keeping in touch” when Ray Allen only leaves him voicemails during games.
His most charismatic moment, though, came in a press conference following Game 6 of the 2008 NBA Finals. When asked by a European reporter what it is like to win an NBA title knowing that he never set foot on the court during the series, the big man replied, “I’ll tell you, it’s not that difficult to do because maybe now you could say I didn’t play a second, but in five years, you guys are gonna forget. In ten years, I’ll still be a champ. In twenty years, I’ll probably tell my kids I started and in thirty years I’ll probably tell ‘em I got the MVP, so I’m really not too worried about it.”
Scalabrine came off a one-year, 1.4 million dollar deal with the bulls at the end of the season and is now an unrestricted free agent. While it is uncertain if he’ll be with the Bulls next season or any team for that matter, you can bet “24” (no, not Kobe) will be worn, albeit a bit sarcastically, by fans all across the nation.