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Bulls Tue Mar 29 2011
Tough night for the Bulls as they fell to Philadelphia 97-85. But with the playoffs approaching, I'm here to tell you once again: don't worry. But not because of Derrick Rose or Joakim Noah, or even because of Luol Deng's burgeoning scoring prowess. No, today it's time to share with casual Bulls fans the secret weapon passionate NBA fans have known about for years: little-used forward Brian Scalabrine, the luckiest player in the league.
It's a secret that stretches back to the beginning of the decade, when he was drafted in the second round in 2001 by the New Jersey Nets. He fell into luxury, as the Nets acquired Jason Kidd the day after the draft. Some of you youngsters might not know this, but the 2001 model Kidd was one heck of a point guard. He was an all-star for five straight years from 2000-2004, tacking on an NBA Skills Challenge title in 2003 for the illustrious All-Star Weekend Double.
The net result (oh you better believe that's intended) was two appearances in the NBA Finals in 2002 and 2003 for Scalabrine.. All this, despite being in the league only two seasons and contributing an average of 10-12 minutes per game with 2.1 and 3.1 points per game each season. STELLAR numbers.
A handful of solid playoff games in the spotlight of the Finals earned Scalabrine a big free-agent contract with Boston in 2005. They were awful for two seasons (partly because they were spending lots of their money on Brian Scalabrine), but the Celtics retooled in 2007 much like the Nets had in 2001, making major trades to bring in Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. Scal's first (but not last?) NBA championship came in 2008 -- this again with 10 minutes per game and barely more than a point per game scoring average -- a stat line he mirrored again last season as the Celtics went to another NBA Finals. (That's four appearances now, for those keeping score at home.)
And now, yet again, he's traded to a team stacked for a run to the Finals. OR IS CHICAGO STACKED BECAUSE OF SCALABRINE?!
Clearly, the luck of this guy is top-notch, even if his 1.1 points in 4.9 minutes per game this season are not. True, his teams are 1-for-4 in the Finals, but the Bulls just need him to get them there. Rose, Noah, Deng, et al., will take care of the rest.
Poor puns aside, it is rather curious that player with limited skills and such a small role has lasted so long in the league. (It helps that the Bulls are coached by a former Celtics assistant.) Coaches mention his teamwork and attitude as integral to the locker room, and for all we know he tells a GREAT zebra joke. But more likely he's earned his money on the practice floor of every team he's played on. Players like him are good enough to push the first-teamers daily, even if he's not good enough to carry the team themselves.
So welcome, Brian. Chicago is happy to have your hard work, above-average outside shooting ability and hilariously stereotypical Irish luck. Let's hope it takes you to the NBA Finals yet again.
Scalabrine photo from NBA.com