CHICAGO – He’s a fan favorite in Chicago. Almost every game his name is chanted my thousands of fans no matter if he’s home or away. People make signs for him, customize jerseys and shirts and he will always have a special place in the hearts of Bulls fans.
No it’s not Derrick Rose or Micheal Jordan. It’s the White Mamba himself, Brian Scalabrine. Ever since he arrived in Chicago, fans have had an odd attraction to the ginger forward.
But his days in Chicago may be over.
The 6’9″ Scalabrine is entering his eleventh year in the NBA and he knows he doesn’t have much gas left in the tank. He told Chicago Tribune reporter K.C. Johnson (a favorite of mine) during the season that he was leaning towards finishing his playing days in Europe. For the 33 year old, those plans may have hit the fast track.
With the NBA officially locked out, Scalabrine is without an NBA city to call home. Even when the lockout ends, Scalabrine won’t have a home as he will be a free agent. His age and the lack of a contract weighing him down has given the White Mamba the wings he deserves to fly off to where ever he wants to go next.
He played for a total of three teams over his ten years in the NBA, playing in the NBA Finals four times, twice with his first team the New Jersey Nets and twice with his second team the Boston Celtics. He won a ring with Boston and has been loved and adored by local fans at all three of his NBA stops. When he stops by New Jersey or Boston in enemy colors, there was no LeBron James-eque booing or taunting. Instead he was met with admiration and affection from all who crossed his path.
“I enjoyed my time in Chicago,” he said. “The city and fans and team were great. Every experience I go through is a learning experience. So what if I go over there? I might learn a ton. It’d be an opportunity to play and to learn and to live in a different culture. I’m waiting to see what happens. The Bulls have been great with me. We talked (Wednesday) and they were happy with what I did last year and talked about bringing me back. I told them that if something doesn’t get solved soon, I probably will play in Europe.”
Scalabrine has stated that at least seven European teams have shown an interest in him and his most likely landing spot will be in Italy, where he hopes to get Italian citizenship.
“For me personally, if in the next 15 days it’s still kind of like it is now, I’m just going to Europe and play,” Scalabrine said to the Tribune’s Johnson. “The thing about that is you have to commit for the whole year and you have no out clauses whatsoever. I support the players and the union and want to see the (NBA) game stay great. But at the end of the day, with two years or so left of playing basketball, I’m not interested in watching billionaires fight. I just like the game too much. I like the camaraderie. I like to play. So why not do it in a great city in Europe and educate my family?”
No matter where he goes, Brian Scalabrine will always be a Chicago Bull and will always have a place in the hearts of all who chant his name. To the most loved guy who never left the bench in Chicago, this one is to you Brian Scalabrine: Spread your wings and fly away.