[Ed. Note: This is TANBR's three hundredth post.]
Most of the NBA's hardware has been given out by this point, but LeBron James isn't coming close to the biggest trophy. TANBR is happy to bestow its Matt Bullard Memorial NBA Scrub of the Year to the Boston Celtics' Brian Scalabrine.
He's the guy on the right.
Over the years, with past winners Rafael Araujo and Ronny Turiaf, we have determined the criteria that measures the impact a quality towel-waver can have on a team. Let's review what distinguishes Scales as a truly transcendent bench-warmer and, in the process, explain how his candidacy flies in the face of most of it.
a. Foreignness and b. Background
Unfortunately, the man known by Celts fans as Veal doesn't put up big numbers in this category, since he was born in Long Beach and grew up in the pedestrian Enumclaw, Washington. Likewise, he played his college ball at USC, and if it's good enough for OJ Mayo, it's honestly too good for the Scrub of the Year. I like for my scrubs to toil somewhere cold or play their way into a spot at St. Wherethehellisthat in Division II.
Before Boston signed him, he was the twelfth man for the Nets since 2001, which is a salient point. There may have been more deserving reserves out there, but I think the SotY has to go to a guy who has been around for at least three years. Spencer Hawes or Nicholas Batum is a better punch-line, but they have not had the time to cultivate the necessary personality to carry this honor. That being said, Scalabrine really makes his bones in the rest of the categories.
c. Playing Time
Because of the decimating injuries Boston has incurred, Veal is seeing some quality minutes, but he was one of the most unreliable presences in the league during the regular season. He's arguably the fifth best forward on the team and would normally get about twelve minutes a game, but no one ever even knows if he's healthy. Since November, he has strained a toe, pulled his groin, and--in the month of March alone--suffered three concussions. He's in street clothes as often as he's in uniform, and the front office is even throwing up their hands at this point. So it's win-win for fans of Scalabrine. You either get to see him losing leverage in the paint or you assume that his brain became slightly dislodged and collided with his skull. In the latter case, you get a good look at his new leather jacket.
Oh. I recognize him now.
d. The Look
Speaking of that leather jacket, the remarkable thing about Scalabrine's appearance is that he always looks awkward. On the court, he's a 6'9" redhead in a headband (red-head-banded?) jacking ill-advised threes. No matter what, you know when number 44 is in. But when he's cheering his team on from the sidelines, he still stands out. Although he has more jackets than Suze Orman, he always leaves the shirt untucked, which only exaggerates his size. Scalabrine is both put-together and sloppy. He doesn't really belong anywhere, which is part of the definition of "scrub."
Unlike previous winners of the award or other TANBR patron saints like Mark Madsen, Big Red has crossed over to a real fan favorite. He has become synonymous with the big, goofy, White playing style he personifies. People make tribute videos and buy his jersey, and when he's watching the game while riding a stationary bike, it's seen as good luck. Almost like one of Red Auerbach's cigars. And isn't that the biggest intangible of them all? When a basketball player becomes more important to his team as something other than a basketball player? That's what Scales brings to the table, and it's why he deserves Scrub of the Year.
"I strive to be a seven. Nothing more, nothing less." No further questions, your honor.