Brian ScalabrineThe Most Beloved 12th Man in NBA History
“He's not going to be a guy that will be featured on ESPN, but he may be a guy that is featured on our videotape when we're watching film as a team. To me, that's always more important. He does a lot of thingswell and he does them the right way. His best quality is that he plays with a calm and he gets the job done.He's so good at letting the game come to him.”-Doc Rivers (not about Scal, but it fits him.)In 2005, Danny Ainge inked Brian Scalabrine to one of the worst contracts in NBA history:5 years, $15million.For years, Scalabrine's deal and numerous trades were thered herringsthat said Danny Ainge was a poor executive. $3 million a year is way too much for a player that, at most,averaged 19 minutes a game, scored4 points on 40% shooting and averaged 1.9 rebounds. Scalabrine was useless on offense except for hisability to hit the corner 3.He was slightly more useful on defense: he slided down to help his teammates out and often took charges.He was, however, too slow to stay in front of most players, unable to get rebounds, even those he was ingood position to get, because of his lack of jumping ability, and was too weak to intimidate players aroundthe basket.Despite the tremendous amount of
he put into each possession,
Celtics' fans hated him for hisphysical limitations and hefty contract.
For his first two years on the Celtics, he was booed mercilessly.In 2007-2008, all was forgiven because of the Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen trades. Brian Scalabrine,despite being on the end of the bench, began to look like
the veteran who could mentor young playersand motivate teammates
with his effort.That year, Celtics' fans began a love affair with their goofy, redheaded big man who hustled for every lose ball and stood in front of oncoming locomotives.Doc Rivers and many others around the league stated how
Scal would make a great coach
one day. Andwhile he rebukes any of these overtures for his future, imagining Scal as anything other than a future NBAcoach is near impossible.Scalabrine, along with former Assistant Coach Tom Thibodeau, received thunderous applause and a video
tribute in their first visit back to the Gawden.In the tribute,Scalabrine said about the Celtics' championship run Maybe now, you would say I didn't play a second. But in fiveyears, you guys are gonna forget. In 10 years, I will still be achampion. In 20 years, I will tell my kids I probably started, andin 30 years, I will probably tell them I got the MVP.When the Celtics had sown up the victory against the Scal's Bulls late in the 4th quarter, thecrowd beganto chant "Scal-a-brine!"to get Scal into the game, which was met by a standing ovation when Thibodeauobliged. It was probably the loudest ovation for an opposing player in sports history.Maybe Danny knew something we didn't. Maybe the redhead was worth every cent of the $15 millioncontract he was given. And maybe he was worth so much more.