I have been tasked with eulogizing Brian Scalabrine's career. And I'll be honest, I'm not 100% sure how to properly do that. I've have a unique perspective on it because I just happened to be paying attention to it at the critical swing of the pendulum from "nobody" to "hated because he's overpaid" to "could be mayor if he wants to."
Let's being with why we're here. We're here because no one wants Brian Scalabrine anymore. Oh, I'm not being mean. I'm actually using his own words.
Scalabrine told Yahoo! Sports he has turned down a chance to stay with the Chicago Bulls as an assistant coach and has agreed to broadcast 11 early season Boston Celtics games for Comcast Sports New England on what he called "a trial run."
Scalabrine had wanted to play another season in the NBA, but conceded, "There was zero interest [in me]. Not some, but zero."
Scal's career lasted, let's be honest here, an improbable 11 years. Remember yesterday when I wrote about the "run through the wall" guys who get paid a few extra years just because coaches love them? That's Scal. Go ask Doc Rivers or Tom Thibodeau about Brian Scalabrine and they'll start gushing.
Keep in mind, they'd be gushing about a guy who scored fewer points over his entire career (1,594) than Kevin Durant, LeBron James, and Kobe Bryant scored just last season. Scal's best season, statistically, came in 2004-05, when he benefited from Jason Kidd's passing to average 6.3 ppg. It was good enough to get $15 million over five years from the Boston Celtics.
And this is where Brian Scalabrine becomes an interesting case study in NBA fandom.
The deal with Boston was a little bit of a head-scratcher because… well… who the hell WAS this guy? The Celtics rolled the dice that Scal was beginning to emerge and progress into a 20-minute-a-game contributor who could hit a couple of threes.
Scalabrine was never very good, and he endured some early boos from the Boston faithful who, at that point, were in a two-decade title drought. Fans watched this guy they'd barely heard of get nearly 20 minutes a game to barely get them four points and two rebounds. Scal, as fans would put it, sucked.
But then things changed. When the new "Big 3" was assembled with the trades for Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, Scalabrine was rightly sent to the end of the bench. Behind the scenes, he still worked his ass off and earned the respect of teammates and coaches. As far as fans knew, he was our new towel-waver. And that's when Brian Scalabrine became "Scal."
He'd appear in blowouts as Boston's "human victory cigar." He went from "loser" to "loveable loser." When he got the ball, fans, perhaps mockingly at first, yelled for him to shoot. But somewhere along the way, the biting mockery morphed into genuine love.
Maybe they realized he always worked his ass off. Maybe time, and a title in 2008, healed all of the wounds. Maybe it was this.
Whatever it was, Boston loves Brian Scalabrine. And judging by the overwhelming online reaction, Bostonians are thrilled to have Scal back and on their TV screens. I'm sure Scal would prefer to pull on a jersey and some green-and-white warm ups to soak in their adulation… but this will have to do for now.
But let's be honest… this is his destiny. If Scal is a natural at anything, it's talking. And he can talk his way into another stratosphere in Boston if he so chooses. This run is only a "trial" because he hopes to play again. The new CUBA, which has dried up money for guys like Scal, will almost certainly ensure he won't.
What Scal can someday become is the next Tommy Heinsohn. If he's willing to call Boston his new home, they'll certainly adopt him as one of their own. And Scal will become a bigger star there than he ever could have on the court.