We were able to catch up with former NBA forward Brian Scalabrine, who played 11 years in the league. He is now playing in the Big 3.
After a brief stint as an assistant for the Golden State Warriors, the fan favorite now has four other jobs outside of the three-on-three basketball league. He now works for SiriusXM NBA Radio, the Boston Celtics and Yahoo! Scalabrine, who won an NBA championship with the Boston Celtics, is focused on his return to the TD Garden when his Ball Hogs take on Trilogy.
Thanks so much for taking the time to talk with me today. I know you have an insanely busy schedule.
Brian Scalabrine: You guys are definitely my go-to website so I had to call you guys. I get all my information from HoopsHype. To me, there’s no better way to do it. I am not a big Twitter guy. I’m a HoopsHype guy to get my news. And I want to read the articles because it gives me context for my broadcast.
We love to hear that. But you said you’re not big on Twitter. You did subtweet me, though. When we met last year, because I had red hair you said “O’Doyle Rules!” from Billy Madison. You could not believe I had no idea what you were talking about.
BS: [Laughing] I remember you, of course. Now you feel ashamed, right? You should definitely know O’Doyle Rules. We’re a dying breed!
Exactly. I’m glad to hear you remember. I’m also happy that you’re still playing in the BIG3 league.
BS: I knew what to expect this time. Man, the league has really improved with the addition of guys like Nate Robinson and Amare Stoudamire. Those guys really brought the league to a whole new level. We’re 1-5 and I thought we were going to have a better team and I think it’s a testament to looking at the talent pool. You can look at some of the guys who didn’t get drafted and be like, man, there are some really good guys out there who were interested. It’s been tough but it’s obviously been a blast to participate.
Oh no. Tell me about your squad and how your team was assembled.
BS: Yeah, I’ve got Josh Childress and DeShawn Stevenson as my two co-captains. Last year, our No. 1 overall pick was Andre Owens. And then I have Corsley Edwards and Jermaine Taylor, who has really surprised some people. Owens is good. When you’re only playing three-on-three, though, the margin for error is really small. A couple turnovers and missed shots and the next thing you know you’ve won one game and lost five.
Can you detail the role you’ve been playing for the team as a big man and as a captain?
BS: I go against the bigger guys but I still want to play small and I still want to play fast. I end up playing like 10 minutes a game and just try to look for a combination that fits. But our head coach Rick Barry decides who plays and he decides who goes into the game. Every week, I keep working out and getting better to work on my game. This is a big week for me. It’s in Boston and this could be the last time that I ever get to play in the Garden. I want to go out with a strong showing.
Are you expecting a pretty big crowd supporting you in Boston?
BS: Based on whenever I walk around the Garden during games for the Celtics, I’m assuming it’s going to be pretty strong. I have to admit… I have not had this much pressure in the Garden in a long time.
To be honest, you’ve maybe never had this much pressure in the Garden – specifically for you. You’ve got a bigger role.
BS: [Laughs] There’s a really good chance! You’re probably right. It’s all about how prepared you are, right? When I’m in the NBA, I was working out like six hours a day trying to make it. Now, I’ve got jobs and everything like that and I’m just trying to fit it in. So you might be right. This might be the steepest the deck has ever been stacked against me. There are only three of us out there!
Who are some of the guys you’ve faced so far that have really surprised you?
BS: No question, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf is the most impressive. I was really impressed when I first saw him try out but the idea that he is able to do this for 10 weeks straight. It’s shocking! I got a chance to talk to him about it and at 49 years old, he’s dominating. They’re undefeated. He’s been their best player and arguably one of the best in the league. One of their best guys got hurt and he’s still carrying the team. He’s so special.
How terrifying is it to see injuries in this league? For the NBA, there are still guaranteed contracts. But you have so many other jobs and it would be hard to get hurt and take away time from those, too.
BS: I think the first year, that was a bigger deal. I took that into account. I’ve almost changed my entire training up. Every morning when I wake up, I do like 30 minutes of mobility. I would have never done that if it weren’t for the Big3. You get nicked up and you realize that you can’t relax on that stuff. I start stretching all areas, my calves and hamstrings and glutes and back. It’s a reminder when you see guys go down that you have to do whatever it takes to make sure that I stay healthy. I don’t know if I have time to see rehab guys and it’s different than when you’re in the NBA and you will have full-time physical therapist specialist. It’s not like that anymore.
You also really don’t want to be the broadcaster on crutches, either.
BS: I’d lose a lot of street cred, that’s for sure.
Transitioning a little bit, what are some of the main takeaways you’ve had now that you’re having a career as a broadcaster.
BS: It was an interesting transition, for sure. But just like hoops, you see the high-level guys as a player. And I’m now surrounded by Hall of Famers, too, like Tommy Heinsohn and Mike Gorman – who’s been doing games for almost 40 years. These guys know what TV is all about. The people in the studios, the producers, seeing how they act is so helpful too. If you’re open and spend enough time asking questions and don’t mind hearing a straight up answer about how you could be better, it’s huge. I would not be who I am or on TV all the time without those people I’ve learned from. I approached it like an athlete. How can I work on my craft every day? That mentality has really helped. Too many times, people will tell you what you want to hear compared to what you need to hear.
There are guys like Donovan Mitchell who was already on the NBA Draft broadcast one year after being selected. Who are some of the players you’ve seen who could have a similar trajectory to you in media?
BS: I don’t know that answer. For me to be good at this, I had to go all in. It might be better for other guys to go one foot into broadcasting with another into coaching or becoming a GM. I don’t want to be a coach anymore. I like my family and my free time. I like this job and the different ways I can grow. With that, I’m all in. But some guys can’t go all in because you have to call guys out and give your opinion. When I was playing with Paul Pierce, I knew he would do this because he had that personality. Dwyane Wade is another but I don’t know if he wants to do it. He keeps it real, too. We need people who don’t sugarcoat anything. That’s why analysts such as Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal do so well.
Have there been guys in the league who have asked you for advice about getting into the media?
BS: Yeah. I tell them to decide what you want to do. If you want to do the broadcasting thing and you’re all in on it, you’re going to have to call people out and be honest. It’s not being negative. It’s saying what you feel. I can praise LeBron James for opening a school and being the smartest player in the NBA. But I can also call him out for checking out of the second half of Game 4. That’s because nothing bad is going to happen to me if I say that. A lot of people won’t do that because if they want to be a coach or a general manager, they might need LeBron for something. Don’t say anything bad if you’re going to regret it later. I don’t tell people what to do but I know these are the choices you have to make.
What are some things away from basketball you’re focused on right now?
BS: I’ve got five jobs, three kids and a wife! It sounds like a sitcom, right? The Big3 takes a lot of time. My favorite month is September. The kids go back to school and they’re gone in the middle of the day. During that time, you know what I do? I drive my tractor, work on my yard and split wood for like six hours at a time. It’s the only two-week stretch I have time to do that. There is a side of me that also wants to live a simple life. It gives me perspective. There are some dudes busting their hump every day and I’m pretty fortunate that I get to talk about basketball and make a living doing it.
You can watch the Big3 at the Garden live on FS1 at 8 pm Friday. You can also watch the first game on Facebook Watch starting at 7 pm.