Brian Scalabrine. The name inspires a number of reactions. For some, it is a cringe; for others, a giggle; and for others, a deep resentment… Yet Celtic fans such as myself, we see Scalabrine as a 6’9” Ginga-Ninja who will forever be under-appreciated. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.
As of today, the Celtics are a game-and-a-half back from Cleveland for the top seed out East. The road back to home-court advantage is going to be tough. The injuries to KG, Rondo and Glen Davis obviously make it tougher. Under-appreciated in the injury list is the loss of Scal, who went down with a concussion whilst defending Dirk Nowtizki in late January. Two more concussions followed quickly from less severe knocks, and as a result Scal has only appeared in three of the Celts’ past eighteen contests.
Post-concussion syndrome was the diagnosis, and the risk of permanent brain damage was flagged. Never a laughing matter, it must be noted the type of brain we’re dealing with here… Scal has medically been placed in the same rare “Brain Type” as a couple of other decent players.
Despite the fact that I’m sure Red Auerbach may in fact have hit me for making the comparison I just made, Scal has played precisely like a Celtic since he arrived in Boston. Scal is a lesser cog in the well-oiled machine that is the Boston Celtics, yet he is a cog nonetheless. The Celtics are 6-0 when he starts. His efforts when Kendrick Perkins was out injured were admirable. He is versatile, defends, can shoot, and knows the system inside-out and backwards. The Celtics’ most successful five man unit, according to 82games.com, is Rondo-Allen-Pierce-Garnett-Scalabrine. No, his contract cannot be justified ($3.2M this year, $3.4M next year… more costly than Rondo, Powe and Glen Davis combined), and no, he probably won’t make any significant impact come playoff time. But he cushioned the loss of Posey and P.J. Brown as best he could.
I would take one KG over twenty-five Brian Scalabrines. Rondo’s ankle may decide the NBA championship. Big Baby and Tony Allen might give us the edge over, say, Cleveland’s bench. But I trust Brian Scalabrine nonetheless. Maybe you haven’t seen him play in a while. Maybe you only know him as a punchline. Maybe you only know him because your Celtic-obsessed mate once scored 99 points with him on NBA 2K9. Whatever the case, Scal’s contribution goes far beyond 3.5 ppg and 1.3 rpg. And every Aussie NBA fan should be hoping that this ranga makes a full recovery. Admit it; the NBA is a better place with him.