Brian Scalabrine might be the color commentator for Boston Celtics games these days, but he was once a cult hero for Celtics fans worldwide – similar to how many view Marcus Smart these days.
Scalabrine, an eleven-year NBA veteran, was never the most talented player on his team, nor was he the most athletically gifted. But, the California native managed to carve out a respectable career that saw him participate in 520 regular-season games, and 39 post-season games along with winning an NBA championship with the Celtics in 2008.
For some reason, fans loved the fundamentally sound power forward, and he quickly rose in popularity throughout the city of Boston. Speaking on a recent episode of the Celtics View From The Rafters podcast, Scalabrine shared his thoughts on why he became such a cult figure for Celtics fans during his time in Boston.
“I think it’s because I look like an underdog. I look like a guy that can’t play, whatever, you want to go down that road, and I’m not oblivious to it. I get it. I go against dudes that look like Greek Gods, and I outplay them all the time. But it’s one of those things where it is what it is. But I think that fans, they wanna make it like ‘How is he doing this?’ He’s a normal guy. If I got the chance, I would be that too. And I wanna root for that type of guy,” Scalabrine told Boston Celtics reporter Marc D’Amico on the podcast.
Scalabrine Has Dealt With Fair Share of Hecklers
We’ve all seen the videos of Scalabrine going one-on-one with random people off the street. That’s the downside to being a ‘regular Joe’ who once played in the NBA – people will always feel like they can beat you on the court and earn some bragging rights over their friends.
It’s those challenges that once lead Scalabrine to coin his famous quote of “I’m closer to LeBron (James) than you are to me,” which still gets floated around social media circles to this day.
During a podcast episode with Duncan Robinson of the Miami Heat, Scalabrine explained what it’s like to deal with the constant challenges from amateur basketball players, and what advice he tries to give them after he accepts their challenges and takes them to school.
“I might suck compared to an NBA player, those guys are pretty good, but I don’t suck compared to you. You, you suck compared to me. I suck compared to Derrick Rose, and Russell Westbrook, I suck compared to those guys. What they don’t recognize, is that when you’re in the NBA, there are all types of tells, like a hesitation, you know what the guy’s going to do.
All that stuff in the NBA, you’ve got to be on top of the reads…And there are countless guys that are six-ten, athletic, but they don’t read the intricacies of the game, they don’t see a hesitation dribble. They don’t move until the ball is passed. I’m moving when the ball is on the gather, if I’m not, I’m dead in the water. So, me being able to analyze the game like that allows me to play a guy one-on-one, I can literally think, in the middle of an inside-out move, think what I’m having for dinner and still block his shots,” Scalabrine said when joking about accepting challenges from players around the country.
Scalabrine is Covering The Next Generation of Celtics
Since his retirement in 2012, Scalabrine has carved out a respectable media presence and now works alongside legendary play-by-play announcer Michael Gorman covering the Celtics games.
For Scalabrine, he’s getting a first-class education in the world of play-by-play announcing, but he’s also getting to witness the growth of this young Celtics team up close. And, as a former Celtics champion himself, will likely have the respect of the players, and can help impart some wisdom when given the opportunity.
Let’s not forget that Scalabrine has previously tried his hand at coaching too, and was a part of the Golden State Warriors during the formative years of their dynasty. Although, the coaching experience was short-lived, after then head coach Mark Jackson re-assigned Scalabrine to help coach in the NBA G-League later that season.
Still, with his outspoken nature, history of success in the NBA, and cult hero status in Boston, Scalabrine has found the perfect role for himself on the sidelines at Celtics games, and as part of the NBC Sports Boston broadcasting crew.