Champion. Leader. Legend. Baller. G.O.A.T. When you hear these things, what do you think of? If the first thing that comes to mind isn’t Brian Scalabrine, you’re not thinking clearly. Scalabrine, or, The White Mamba as many prefer to call him, has become a house hold name over the last few years with his off color interviews, quirky antics on the sideline and awkwardness on the court, and as of last May, he has played his final basketball game as a pro. Scala has decided to call it a career after 11 seasons after turning down an offer to be an assistant to head coach, Tom Thibodeau, on the Chicago Bulls, to go overseas and broadcast for Comcast, England, according to Yahoo! Sports. While he says it is only a trial run for a new career, Scala is quick to add that there is a “small possibility” he would continue his career overseas next season. Yes, the White Mamba may be saying good-bye to the game for good, but he’s leaving behind a legacy not soon to be forgotten. Greater than Kareem, Magic, Dr. J and even greater than anything Kobe or MJ will leave us. Scalabrine is the only truth we will know to the game, averaging a solid 3.1 ppg. Through his career and winning the coveted ring in many players long for but never achieve when he lead the Boston Celtics to the upset over the powerhouse Lakers in 2008, and while all the players were just talking about how great it was to be champions and how “Anything is possible,” Scalabrine was the lone stud who called out the media, predicting the C’s to lose the series 4-2 to the Lake Show. Don’t believe me? Bare witness:
I know there are some of you shaking your heads at this point; shame on you. We’re talking about a man, whose off-season condition includes; running up a mountain, jumping off a 40 foot bridge into ice cold water and swimming up stream just to do it all again about 30 times. How can you not call this man a legend? I’m sorry, but wasn’t MJ gambling or riding his motorcycle in the off-season? Granted, he was also training, but no one trains like the White Mamba. Case closed.
All jokes aside, Scalabrine, while not being an impact player on the court, is proof that people do still play for the love of the game. Night in and night out he came out in support of his teammates and giving it everything he had on the court whenever he had the chance. It’s not the typical case of LeBron we see averaging 30 points a night of a Jeremy Lin off the bench scenario where he blew up over night. Scalabrine brought his knowledge and commitment to the arena every night for what is seen as chump change in todays NBA market. Over the span of his 11-year career, Scala made just over $20 million. For those of you claiming that’s a lot of money. Yes, it is, but for an NBA player it’s close to nothing for that length of a career whereas the average salary of an NBA payer for 2010-2011 was $5.15 million. Scala was a special kind of player and it was clear to see throughout his career; he wasn’t in it for the money and he showed us the joy in being apart of the game. In 2005, when he signed a five year, $15 million contract with the Boston Celtics, it puzzled some people. Why would Danny Ainge spend that much coin on a guy who started a mere 14 games the season before with the Nets? Well, while the numbers weren’t there for Scalabrine, everything else made sense to take the 6’9” White Mamba.
“You can’t look at numbers at all,” said Scalabrine. ”I can have the greatest season in the world and not score a lot of points, but I do the right things, like play off the ball and get other people involved. Or, on the other hand, I can score a lot of points and have a bad season, defensively not getting on the glass. Numbers are deceiving. I’m telling you right now, the Boston Celtics and any other team that was interested in signing me wasn’t going to sign me based on numbers. They were going to sign me based on my knowledge of the game, my feel for the game, and the respect I have for the game of basketball and how hard I play.”
Scalabrine probably wouldn’t have the opportunity presented to him to broadcast basketball in England if his knowledge for the game wasn’t there, and surely, Tom Thibodeau, wouldn’t be extending an offer to be an assistant coach for the Bulls either. However, getting back to the corky ginger we all know and love for a second, one of my favorite moments in Scala’s career came from his post game interview on the final question he received about not being apart of the win on the court:
We’ve seen some fairly hysterical interviews in the last decade from people like Shaq, Dwight Howard, Allen Iverson and other players throughout the league, but none of those players had a way with the media like Scala. His delivery to every question as if he had hit the game winner, no matter the question, make him one of the greatest to ever sit at the podium or stand behind a microphone. Even if his attire wasn’t worth the mention, his antics definitely make him one of the finest when it comes to podium game; I think that’s something we can all agree on, and don’t be surprised if we see that podium game back again in the near future. Not as a player, but Scalabrine said he would entertain offers as an assistant coach in the Pac-12, according to ESPN Chicago’s Nick Friedell, specifically Oregon, Washington or USC, Scalabrine’s alma mater. The White Mamba claims he likes the way the system is in the Pac-12 system is and considers Oregon and Washington due to the connections he has formed with their respected programs throughout the years.
As it seems we have seen the last of Scalabrine in an NBA uniform with the exception of millions of memes made and the countless highlights we will forever see on ESPN and NBATV, we’re left with fond memories of man to be crowned the king of basketball when it’s all said and done. From his signature ginger hair to the MVP chants every time he took the court, the league will sorely miss Brian Scalabrine, in its entirety. Join me, Ballislife family and basketball fans everywhere, in saying goodbye to the man, the myth, the legend, one last time.