I wasn’t at the Garden last night, so I couldn’t see the Scalabrine video tribute that was shown. I can only imagine it wasn’t anywhere near as touching as the one above.
We loved Brian Scalabrine for a lot of reasons. He is the lovable underdog, possesses a self-depricating sense of humor that is rare in an athlete, and is easy to make fun of. He never complained, never failed to be a great teammate, and once in a while he would even hit a three-pointer or two. He also — dare I say it? — has pasty white skin. For some people, I think that made a difference.
Yesterday was Scal’s triumphant (did you see him block Pierce? No, seriously) return to Boston. The fans gave him a terrific reception and standing ovation (“Are you serious, Scal?’’ Kurt Thomas asked him. “You’re that big out here?’’), and Scal’s former teammates and head coach showed just as much love.
“We won together,” Kevin Garnett said. “Scal is the ultimate professional athlete. I have uncanny respect for the guy. He came in here and was a professional every day that he put on the green and white. I respect him more than anything. He’s one of my favorite ex-teammates in my small 15 years [in the NBA].” …
“He’s lying; he’ll coach, there’s no doubt about that,” Rivers said. “We talk about it and he denies it to me all the time, as well. But he’ll be with me. I’ve told him that the day he’s done playing, if he needs a seat, it’ll be there for him. He’s just one of those guys you want around your team.
“It’s in his blood. He loves basketball. He loves talking about coaching too much. You’ve seen him, he’ll be in front of the [team] plane, asking [Rivers], ‘Why did you think about this coming out of a timeout?’ He would always ask those questions. Guys like that tend to coach.” …
“I know people look at him and say,” said Garnett, raising an eyebrow, “‘You know, but there’s a reason he plays; there’s a reason he’s on rosters; there’s a reason he’s in the league.’ He adds value. We understand that, like the Bulls and Thibs understand that.”
Scal adds value. He also adds humor.
“We were talking to Chicago the whole [offseason], but I was talking to [Bulls general manager] Gar [Forman] and the holdout was that I wanted a statue next to Michael Jordan [outside the United Center],” Scalabrine explained Friday before the Celtics beat the Bulls 110-105 in overtime at TD Garden. “He was like, ‘A lot of good players have come through Chicago, and I don’t know if I can guarantee we can do that.’ So I said, ‘I’m going to hold out until you promise me that.’ At the end of the day, I said, ‘Fine, you don’t have to put the statue up.’”
We miss you Scal, even if those feelings have little to do with your sterling physique or otherworldly basketball skills.