2. HE WON
There is not a convincing, direct connection to be made between Scalabrine’s role on the floor and a team’s wins and losses. His best Player Efficiency Rating of his career of 13.5 came last season in Chicago. That was the same or close to solid but unspectacular players such as Korver, Vince Carter, Randy Foye, Darren Collison and Luke Ridnour, though the Bulls’ production dipped 2.3 points when he was on the floor. And yet, he found his way from one winning team to the next because he made them better as a communicator and strategist. His services were so in demand by Thibodeau in Chicago he actually lobbied management to bring him back in 2010.
Doubt his intangible value? Not those who play with him.
“He’s been to four NBA Finals,” said Joakim Noah, who has grown close with Scalabrine. “We’d be silly not to listen to him.”
Kevin Garnett easily could discount Scal’s role on the 2008 title team. Instead, he was more glowing than someone forging their own letter of recommendation.
“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].”
1. SOME OF THE NBA’S BEST COACHES BELIEVE IN HIM
Boston’s Doc Rivers predicted this in March 2011. To be clear, when Rivers’ squad of stars coalesced into a title-winning team in 2008, the White Mamba was not included in the “stars” category. Or as a role player, either, with 10.7 points per game. Those worked against Scal only in the sense that fans didn’t see his role publicly, instead leaving his best work in practices and in team settings. Rivers was privy to all that. It’s why he said “I love him” before predicting the very spot Scal finds himself at now.
“Scal is going to be a hell of a coach,” Rivers said. “He’s in the same spot I was in at the same point in his career, and all he says is, ‘No I’m going to do TV. I’m going to do radio.’ And I just shake my head, sure Scal.
“Scalabrine, mark my words, will be an NBA coach, and a good one.”
Here’s the key to Scalabrine’s key to longevity in the league: He knows when to work and when to have some fun, but never mistakes the two. Being able to separate his place in fans’ hearts from the reality of being a starter just 61 times in 520 career games means he gives everyone something they want. For fans, it’s a hustle player whose self-awareness about being in on the joke of his own limitations makes him relatable. For coaches, it’s a player who won’t stop working to make the team better even knowing his role is small. Back in the Tribune:
“He’s always had such great enthusiasm for the game,” said Thibodeau, who asked management to sign Scalabrine as a free agent last summer. “Some guys, when they’re not playing, they’re disengaged. Scal has never been that way. I think that’s a big part of why he’s appreciated everywhere he goes. His spirit is so strong. If he’s not playing, he’s helping those guys who are playing and supporting them in every way possible. That’s what a pro does.”
Will he be a good coach?
Follow Andrew on Twitter at @AndrewGreif.
Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.
Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.