If you heard the name Brian Scalabrine as a basketball fan, what would you think? Unseasoned food, probably, mayonnaise, or even those New Balance shoes your dad likes to mow the lawn in. What you wouldn’t think immediately is basketball player.
However, Scalabrine, affectionately known as The White Mamba (rest in peace, Kobe) is still an NBA veteran of 11 years. Why, oh why does anyone think they can actually compete with him outside of the NBA?
A video recently went viral of a high schooler challenging Scalabrine to a game of one-on-one. Scal promptly put the kid in his place, dominating the youngster like it was nothing.
In a recent piece by Sopan Deb of The New York Times, Brian Scalabrine, arguably one of the most memed NBA players of all time, opened up about why he keeps getting challenged by random dudes at the gym:
“Being a white N.B.A. player from the suburbs, I have to level up. … People don’t understand how a little bit nuts you have to be to sustain an N.B.A. career,” Scalabrine said. “Especially when you’re not that talented. You have to be ready. You have to be up for the fight. You have to be like that every day. And if you’re not, you lose your livelihood.”
Brian Scalabrine states his situation very eloquently. To summarize, as an NBA player, benchwarmer or no (3.1 career PPG), you are one of the 500 best basketball players in the world (an even smaller pool of 150 for the WNBA). To be a benchwarmer takes a different sort of grit than being at the top, since instead of getting bashed in the media upon failure, you simply lose your job. G League players numbering in the hundreds themselves will go entire careers without playing in the NBA, as well as thousands of college hoopers who will never see either league, and that’s just accounting for American athletes.
In short, players who make the league are there for a reason:
“I can go into any gym right now and I can find some of the best players going through the motions sometimes,” Scalabrine said. “Can you imagine 15 straight years? Maybe even more like 17, 18 straight years of never going through the motions?”
He said professional athletes, even retired ones, have an extra gear that an average person cannot tap into. He referred to it as the “dark place.”
“I would always say things, like in a game, ‘If I miss this next shot, my kids are going to die,’” Scalabrine said. “I would say that to myself, just to get through, just to put the pressure so I can lock in and make the shot.”
Yikes. But whatever works, right?
Brian Scalabrine, after all, did manage to scrape together an 11-year career from this mentality. But, ultimately, maybe it all boils down to the fact that he simply doesn’t look like a basketball player.
Or to hear former Chicago Bulls teammate Joakim Noah say it:
“Scal, you look like you suck, but you don’t suck.”
Brian Scalabrine certainly doesn’t suck.