Brian Scalabrine 568To most fans he was just simply ‘Scal’, to others he was the ‘White Mamba’, a playful take on Kobe Bryant’s ‘Black Mamba’ nickname. After eleven seasons playing in the NBA, Brian Scalabrine is now working in the media and looking ahead.

He may not have lit up the scoreboard too often during his playing career and spent a lot of time watching games from the bench, but NBA fans in New Jersey, Chicago and especially Boston, loved Brian Scalabrine. When he wasn’t playing, the shouts of ‘Scal-uh-bree-nee’ would often be chanted by the fans in the stands, eager to see him get into the game.

It wasn’t always that way in Boston and fans initially resented a big contract handed out to a role player who would spend a lot of time riding the pine, but Scalabrine’s work ethic and enthusiasm soon won them over.

Originally, the chants of Scalabrine’s name were used mockingly to announce the game was over, so get the human victory cigar on the floor. It was a throwback to when the legendary Red Auerbach was coaching the team and he would light up a cigar when the Celtics were closing out a victory (you could smoke in an arena back then). It was Auerbach’s way of telling opponents the Celtics had won.

When Scalabrine left for Chicago in 2010, playing time was again limited, but the Bulls fans took to Scalabrine with the same enthusiasm as those in Boston and did so until last summer when Scalabrine wasn’t offered a new contract by any NBA team.

For a lot of players that would be the end of the story, but not someone who loves the game of basketball as much as Brian Scalabrine.

After rejecting a chance to play in Europe, he’s now working part-time as a broadcaster for Comcast New England, who cover the Boston Celtics, and in a conference call last week, Scalabrine told MVP that when the Celtics suffered season-ending injuries to Rajon Rondo, Jared Sullinger and Leandro Barbosa, he let Celtics’ GM Danny Ainge know he would be willing to help them out.

“I was asking [Ainge], ‘Come on DA, no-one knows the system like me! You don’t have to sign me for the rest of the year, just give me a 10-day man, I can help win a few games’… but to no avail.”

“He did give me some good advice,” Scalabrine added. “If you do broadcasting and then you go back to playing for ten days, and then you go back to broadcasting; when you pop back and forth, people don’t take you serious.

“I’m trying to take this job serious. I do want to play, don’t get me wrong. Who wouldn’t want to play in the NBA for another season at that, but I think he was a little bit right about focusing on what I’m doing now and trying to improve as a broadcaster.”

The main reason for speaking to Scalabrine was a chance to ask about Jeff Green, of whom Scalabrine has watched a lot this season while carrying out his media duties.

Green went to Boston in a trade that’s been mired in controversy ever since the Celtics sent popular centre Kendrick Perkins to Oklahoma for Green and Nenad Krstic.

For a while, it was felt the Celtics never really got anything out of the deal as Green was initially a let-down on the court and Krstic left to play in Europe after only half a season. Green then missed the whole of last season following heart surgery and only came back for the start of the current campaign.

In recent weeks, Green has finally got going and really stepped up since the Celtics were hit by all those season-ending injuries. Without a pure point guard since Rondo’s injury, the Celtics have had to change their style of play and both Green and the Celtics have thrived in a more up-tempo system.

As far as Scalabrine’s concerned, it’s no surprise that the Celtics are finally getting to see the best of Jeff Green.

“I think the last two months [Jeff Green] has been playing tremendous,” he said. “If you talk to the doctors who performed the surgery and any other doctor that understands what it takes to go through something like that with the surgery, recovery and all that, they said to get a true reflection of Jeff Green you’re going to have look at March.

“If you look at February and March and what’s he’s been doing, he has really been stepping up statistically speaking and the thing I’m seeing more of is him making the right play for his team-mates consistently throughout the game.

“I didn’t see that as much in the early part of the season but now I see him driving to the basket, drawing two defenders and hitting an open Avery Bradley in the corner. When that happens, that unselfish play is so contagious that everyone starts to do it and the last two months the guy’s been playing awesome.”

With Paul Pierce’s long NBA career winding down in perhaps the next year or so, many Celtics fans now believe Jeff Green is the man to replace Pierce when retirement finally beckons. Scalabrine isn’t so sure.

“Will he ever be the next Paul Pierce? I don’t think so; it doesn’t seem like that suits his game, but he can be like a guy that is sixth man of the year, coming off the bench. A guy that can get you 20, 22 points a game and you don’t have to run plays for him.

“That is in my opinion a much more special player than, throwing out there, like a Rudy Gay, who you have to run 35 to 40 plays for him to get 22, 23 points

“To me, Jeff Green is a valuable asset to the Celtics and this year, as well as continuing to build going forward, you still have to have that number one guy, and you can play Jeff Green off of those guys.”

Scalabrine looked back to a recent last-second win at Indiana, in which Jeff Green scored the winning basket, to prove his point.

“Let’s go back to the Indiana high post reverse split. [Green] was so wide open and able to get the lay-up, because when Paul Pierce set the screen on him, [Indiana] were so afraid of Paul Pierce they didn’t leave him.

“They kept two guys on Pierce and left Jeff Green wide open under the basket. So as long as you have that guy with Jeff Green, Jeff Green will be a tremendous asset in the NBA because of his athletic ability and his skill.”

Scalabrine tackled a whole range of other NBA topics during an extensive conference call with European-based media and his knowledge of the game in the responses showed that his new career working in broadcasting should have a very bright future.

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