Bill Simmons Apologizes to Brian Scalabrine

By Jake Appleman 

TSG finallys gives Scal some props, and in the process says chowdah:

“208. Brian Scalabrine
Not a joke. He played 19 minutes a game before getting hurt last month, shot 40 percent from 3-point territory and played surprisingly good defense, and that’s before getting into all the intangibles (great character guy, everyone loves him, etc.). The Celtics were 19-35 when he played and 4-22 without him. Sure, anytime Brian Scalabrine emerges as one of the bright spots of the season, you can probably reserve hotel rooms in Secaucus without even looking at the standings. But given how much abuse I gave Scalabrine last year, he needed to be mentioned. It’s not his fault Danny Ainge overpaid him.”

I should note that I wrote that exact last sentence this past July. I will now run my Scalabrine ode from two years ago:

Scalabreezy: The end of a glowing Joisey aura (and era), a tribute …

It’s seems like just yesterday. Garbage (point) time left on the clock. The goofy rookie comes bounding towards the scorer’s table and forgets to remove his warm-up pants. There will never be another Brian Scalabrine in New Jersey. And before I wish I had the guts to scale East Rutherford in protest, let me remind you, it’s a damn shame.

The scene in “American Beauty” where the creepy dude is spellbound by the floating plastic bag is comparable to Breezy’s early years with the Nets. Think about it: why was this guy obsessed with a plastic bag? Because it was floating, always within the camera’s reach, though never quite seeming to make much of an impact. Why were 26.3 Nets fans so compelled by someone who seemed to be another second round journeyman waiting to happen? Why did blowout-induced entrances inspire such cacophony from the rafters of the “capacity, what’s that?”Airlines Arena? Quite simply, because B-Scal doesn’t look like a baller—unless Michael Rappaport played college ball—and emanates an aura of pure awesomeness. Like muck in the swamp, he stuck. Just like the few long-suffering Net fans who can smile proudly on Jersey’s recent success.

Not since the heyday of Joe “holy crap I’m jumping center!” Klein had the league seen such blazing red hair. Like the paper bag, Scalabrine held on, barely remaining in the camera’s view. Breezy was the human victory cigar before Darko hit puberty, although opinions might vary on whether or not that statement is impressive. And then all the hard work paid off. He blew up (relatively speaking) like the Joisey big and tall version of Earl Boykins minus the mind-boggling teal toad marketing campaign.

Dubbed “the people’s choice”, his 4 year stint with Nets rose above all expectations and netted him a deserved 15 million from the C’s. Scalabrine, nicknamed Veal Scalabrine, is the quintessential representation of hustle—for the record, I would never order him at a restaurant, do not brutalize him, do not associate him with mushrooms, and do not think of him as particularly tender. Watching him fulfill his potential was a reminder to NBA fans near and far that those who do actually do the work deserve to reap the benefits. His sparkling triple overtime performance against Detroit two years ago was so mesmerizing that Kevin Harlan swallowed his own larynx.

There’s something intangible about Scalabrine’s greatness to Net fans. He’s not just a tireless worker; he’s a representation of when the sour turned sweet in Jersey. When the league stopped laughing and shi**ing on the swamp, Scalabrine was there, fighting back, like a kid who unpredictably walks back up to his main adversaries and atomic wedgies them. Jersey fans developed a, “not only do we have the best fast break in the league, but we have Brian Scalabrine, sucka!” complex. Exit 16W was a stairway to heaven. He was the cherry on top of Jersey’s 3 year stint as the most dominant team in the eastern conference—Detroit was a deserving champion in ’04 after dismantling the Lakers, but let’s face it, Jersey’s game six loss at home was a massive choke job.

Scalabrine’s vibrant personality complements his on-the-court work ethic. There are a handful of guys I’ve encountered in my brief time venturing into locker rooms whose personalities immediately light up the room and translate out of an NBA setting and into the real world, and Brian Scalabrine is the foremost example. It’s as easy for me to see him climbing ladders and saving babies in burning buildings, not to mention saving up to 15% on his car insurance by calling Geico, as it is for me to see him as a solid role player. He’s just that kind of guy, one who we should all appreciate. He’ll work hard for Boston and he’ll find his lucky charms, too. It’s funny; I used to always assume he was 100% Irish because…well, looks can be deceiving—enough so to dub him Killians: red head, gets the job done, makes life more enjoyable, and gets you off your feet…

Danny Ainge got his team a solid performer and a good person, although I refuse to discuss his brain type, or brain typing. Great signing for Boston. I’m not sure the Nets could compete with that kind of dough while going after a starting 4, so I can’t fully blame them. I think I’m developing the “smiles and cries” complex from “Training Day” when thinking about the amazing swamp memories that come with his impending departure. The Celtics have a bunch of young talent looking to learn about being a professional and now they won’t have to always turn to Ricky Davis or Paul Pierce while he lives the life of a trade rumor. Are the Celtics better off? It’s in the bag.