Brian Scalabrine is Better at Basketball Than You

RSN Diaspora

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Sopan Deb has a fascinating article in the NYT today about how retired scrubs frequently get challenged in pickup games and demonstrate that they are still better than the rest of us will ever be. Some highlights:

{S}trangers cannot seem to stop challenging Scalabrine to one-on-one games. Last month, a video that went viral showed Scalabrine being challenged at a gym by an overeager high schooler in Taunton, Mass. Scalabrine, playing the teenager for a pair of sneakers, beat him 11-0.

Scalabrine, who averaged 3.1 points per game for his career, said this happens to him regularly, and conversations with other unheralded former players revealed that it’s the same for them. By his own account, Scalabrine, 43, looked "pudgy on television compared to some of the best athletes in the world" and wasn’t known as much of a rebounder or scorer.
“Being a white N.B.A. player from the suburbs, I have to level up,” said Scalabrine, who is from Long Beach, Calif., and was often referred to as the White Mamba, a play on Kobe Bryant’s Black Mamba nickname.

“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.”

Scalabrine has, to some degree, invited the ongoing challenges. Shortly after retiring, he took part in a Boston radio station’s “Scallenges” promotion in which top local players played him one on one. Scalabrine won every game by a large margin.
[Scal] 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.”
 

jose melendez

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This reminds me of my old "how tall would have to be to be in the NBA" thread. I had modest confidence that in my mid 20s if I had been 7'6'' I could have been an NBA bench warmer for at least a bit-- I suck at basketball.
 

CaptainLaddie

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This reminds me of my old "how tall would have to be to be in the NBA" thread. I had modest confidence that in my mid 20s if I had been 7'6'' I could have been an NBA bench warmer for at least a bit-- I suck at basketball.
I wish sports-reference Play Index had a way to search by height. I'd love to be able to see how many 7'6" guys in college history didn't play in the pros.
 

Kliq

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Here's a list of some of them.

It seems like health is a pretty central issue.
When you start talking about the world's tallest people, you are often talking about people who have some sort of growth disorder that can often make them physically handicapped. Humans simply cannot be that big without losing a lot of motor skills or coordination that would make it necessary for them to be able to play at the highest level, even given their extraordinary height. It's no coincidence that of the largest NBA players in history, they happen to be the very few people in recent history who happen to be naturally that tall, such as Bol, Bradley and Yao. The only people I can think of off the top of my head that had notable NBA careers that had known pituitary gland disorders are Muresan (who struggled with injuries) and Boban. Tacko is also someone who is naturally tall, which is why he might have a chance to stick in the NBA, he moves pretty well and is proportional.

The list you posted failed to include former Argentine basketball player Giant Gonzalez, who was 8 feet tall!
 

djbayko

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When you start talking about the world's tallest people, you are often talking about people who have some sort of growth disorder that can often make them physically handicapped. Humans simply cannot be that big without losing a lot of motor skills or coordination that would make it necessary for them to be able to play at the highest level, even given their extraordinary height. It's no coincidence that of the largest NBA players in history, they happen to be the very few people in recent history who happen to be naturally that tall, such as Bol, Bradley and Yao. The only people I can think of off the top of my head that had notable NBA careers that had known pituitary gland disorders are Muresan (who struggled with injuries) and Boban. Tacko is also someone who is naturally tall, which is why he might have a chance to stick in the NBA, he moves pretty well and is proportional.

The list you posted failed to include former Argentine basketball player Giant Gonzalez, who was 8 feet tall!
That Sun Mingming player in China not only looked naturally tall, but unlike most in the list he looked to have a proportionally athletic build. 370 pounds! Must have been a nightmare to box out.

Then I see the knee brace.He must have done a number on his joints.

Edit: Alexander Sizonenko looks pretty muscular too.
 
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Eddie Jurak

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Scal is a hell of a lot closer to LeBron than an amateur is to him.
While he was still podcasting with John Karalis, The Athletic's Jay King (who I think played a little bit of D3 basketball in college) talked about going 1 on 1 with Scal. He said that at first Scal was not taking it seriously, which led King to get competitive and start trash talking Scal, which led Scal to just destroy him without breaking a sweat.
 

Devizier

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I'd have a hard time thinking of a retired NBA player that I could beat at one-on-one. Obvious exceptions granted to non-ambulatory players.
 

HomeRunBaker

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This reminds me of my old "how tall would have to be to be in the NBA" thread. I had modest confidence that in my mid 20s if I had been 7'6'' I could have been an NBA bench warmer for at least a bit-- I suck at basketball.
We had a kid at our high school about 5 years after I graduated who was 7-1 with a super soft jumper. He was slow and soft as hell but a decent RI D-2 high school player (bc he was 7-1 w a super soft jumper). Ended up sitting the bench at Seton Hall but got a free education. Anyway.....he’d come down the playground in the summer on weekends where the games were very competitive. First week there kid who was picking didn’t know him and of course picked him first bc he was 7-1 and didn’t miss a shot warming up. After that when he’d come on a Sat or Sun morning he’d be among the last ones picked until he stopped showing up.

Not only does 7-1 not ensure NBA or college success......you can’t even make it on the playground without Agility.
 

HomeRunBaker

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I'd have a hard time thinking of a retired NBA player that I could beat at one-on-one. Obvious exceptions granted to non-ambulatory players.
Disclaimer stopped me from going to hell. *Cough...Shawn Bradley...cough.
 

RSN Diaspora

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I think I could take Kobe.
This counts--ash doesn't qualify as either ambulatory or non-ambulatory.

What's interesting to me, is that there are other players in the article who A) I couldn't pick out of a lineup, and B) no longer live in the cities where they played most of their games, yet randos recognize them enough to challenge them on the court.
 

Brohamer of the Gods

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We had a kid at our high school about 5 years after I graduated who was 7-1 with a super soft jumper. He was slow and soft as hell but a decent RI D-2 high school player (bc he was 7-1 w a super soft jumper). Ended up sitting the bench at Seton Hall but got a free education. Anyway.....he’d come down the playground in the summer on weekends where the games were very competitive. First week there kid who was picking didn’t know him and of course picked him first bc he was 7-1 and didn’t miss a shot warming up. After that when he’d come on a Sat or Sun morning he’d be among the last ones picked until he stopped showing up.

Not only does 7-1 not ensure NBA or college success......you can’t even make it on the playground without Agility.
Was that guy Jim Dickinson? If so we went to the same high school.
 

CantKeepmedown

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It's the physicality. Some of the videos I saw he was just backing guys down and moving them out of the way. Some mentioned being surprised at how quick Scal was. Like the one Syracuse player said, Scal could and did win games pretty much whenever he wanted.

Eye opening for sure, but there are definitely dudes out there that still think they can hang with the worst player in the NBA. It's laughable.
 

Cesar Crespo

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That Sun Mingming player in China not only looked naturally tall, but unlike most in the list he looked to have a proportionally athletic build. 370 pounds! Must have been a nightmare to box out.

Then I see the knee brace.He must have done a number on his joints.

Edit: Alexander Sizonenko looks pretty muscular too.
Kenny George was 7'6 and 360 lbs. The guy was a monster.

40404
 

Cesar Crespo

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I'd guess most of us could probably beat Muggsy one on one, as long as you have somewhat of a handle and have youth on your side. Muggsy is 56 and probably closer to 5'1 now.
 

DJnVa

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While he was still podcasting with John Karalis, The Athletic's Jay King (who I think played a little bit of D3 basketball in college) talked about going 1 on 1 with Scal. He said that at first Scal was not taking it seriously, which led King to get competitive and start trash talking Scal, which led Scal to just destroy him without breaking a sweat.
Scal also took on all 3 radio guys as part of the Scallenges at the same time and beat them like 11-2.
 

Cesar Crespo

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Scal also took on all 3 radio guys as part of the Scallenges at the same time and beat them like 11-2.
Has he ever played anyone close to his size? Scal is going to win most 1 on 1s to sheer size alone. That's why I think some of us could beat Muggsy. especially if any of you are 6'3+ and 200+ lbs. Muggsy aint stopping that.
 

the moops

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This reminds me of my old "how tall would have to be to be in the NBA" thread. I had modest confidence that in my mid 20s if I had been 7'6'' I could have been an NBA bench warmer for at least a bit-- I suck at basketball.
I think if I was 6'10" I could have had a chance. Part of it is being sub 6 feet abd knowing that my basketball days were limited didn't really result in me trying all that hard. If I was tall enough and strong enough I wonder how different my work etiquette would have been
 

Brohamer of the Gods

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There was only one other 7-footer that I know of who played high school in RI around that time (Craig Stewart, Barrington) and I didn’t go to Barrington. ;)
Jim was a year behind me. I faced him a few times when he was pitching in youth baseball. He wasn't 7 feet yet, but it was still terrifying.
 

jose melendez

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I think if I was 6'10" I could have had a chance. Part of it is being sub 6 feet abd knowing that my basketball days were limited didn't really result in me trying all that hard. If I was tall enough and strong enough I wonder how different my work etiquette would have been
I've got to ask this question to my colleague who is 6'8'' and played college ball in Canada. I think he said 7 feet when I asked him before.
 

HomeRunBaker

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Jim was a year behind me. I faced him a few times when he was pitching in youth baseball. He wasn't 7 feet yet, but it was still terrifying.
That’s right I forgot he pitched too. I know he had a lower leg condition as a child that affected his mobility. The fact that he could play at all was a feel good story.
 

HomeRunBaker

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I think if I was 6'10" I could have had a chance. Part of it is being sub 6 feet abd knowing that my basketball days were limited didn't really result in me trying all that hard. If I was tall enough and strong enough I wonder how different my work etiquette would have been
Interesting. It is usually the other way around. The bigger kids growing up usually had it easy so they relied more on their natural gifts while the smaller guards had to grind it out hard and give max effort to compete.
 

The Gray Eagle

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I'd guess most of us could probably beat Muggsy one on one, as long as you have somewhat of a handle and have youth on your side. Muggsy is 56 and probably closer to 5'1 now.
LOL that is hilarious. Bogues would still destroy everyone on this board. Every time you tried to dribble, he would take it from you, even now. If you play "make it, take it" once he got the ball, you wouldn't get it back.
 

BaseballJones

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On ESPN radio this morning Mike Greenberg has been making me laugh so hard. They are working on the premise that Greenberg would buy the Dodgers and insert himself into the starting lineup on an every day basis. The question is: how many games would this cost the Dodgers and could they still win the WS with him playing everyday (and presumably playing most of every game and not being announced in the starting lineup and then immediately being removed...actually PLAYING like a starting regular).

They tried to figure out what position they could put him at. I guess DH wasn't an option being the Dodgers, but they really couldn't find one. He thought about first base and said basically, come on, I might not be able to handle hot smashes down the line but I can stand there and take throws from the infielders on grounders. And the other guys were like, no way - they throw 90 miles and hour across the diamond...no chance Mike.

So it got me thinking: What position at what sport do you think you could most likely play with the greatest success (understanding that this is laughable at that level, that for virtually all of us, it would be an unmitigated disaster no matter where you put us no matter the sport, even if we were really good high school or college athletes)?

For me, I was a college volleyball player, but I'm in my 50s now. I certainly couldn't be a hitter or even a setter. Could I be a libero and just play defense? Well...hahahaha I mean sure I could, but I would get smoked play after play. But I know I could make SOME plays in that position. Not most, and not many, but SOME. But otherwise, man, I can't think of a position in any sport where I'd actually have anything resembling a whiff of a chance of not getting utterly destroyed.
 

Cesar Crespo

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LOL that is hilarious. Bogues would still destroy everyone on this board. Every time you tried to dribble, he would take it from you, even now. If you play "make it, take it" once he got the ball, you wouldn't get it back.
Maybe this board because it's all 40+ old dudes. I'm sure a lot more people could beat Bogues one on one than Scal. Size means a lot one on one. Not many people are beating Scal one on one, even if they are a better basketball player. Worse basketball players than Muggsy could beat Muggsy one on one.
 

BaseballJones

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LOL that is hilarious. Bogues would still destroy everyone on this board. Every time you tried to dribble, he would take it from you, even now. If you play "make it, take it" once he got the ball, you wouldn't get it back.
100% right. And he may be short, but he was (presumably still is) strong as hell. Trying to post him up would be a heck of a lot harder than people here might imagine. Bogues would crush us easily. Don't forget, unlike Scal, Muggsy was actually a legitimately good pro.
 

Cesar Crespo

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On ESPN radio this morning Mike Greenberg has been making me laugh so hard. They are working on the premise that Greenberg would buy the Dodgers and insert himself into the starting lineup on an every day basis. The question is: how many games would this cost the Dodgers and could they still win the WS with him playing everyday (and presumably playing most of every game and not being announced in the starting lineup and then immediately being removed...actually PLAYING like a starting regular).

They tried to figure out what position they could put him at. I guess DH wasn't an option being the Dodgers, but they really couldn't find one. He thought about first base and said basically, come on, I might not be able to handle hot smashes down the line but I can stand there and take throws from the infielders on grounders. And the other guys were like, no way - they throw 90 miles and hour across the diamond...no chance Mike.

So it got me thinking: What position at what sport do you think you could most likely play with the greatest success (understanding that this is laughable at that level, that for virtually all of us, it would be an unmitigated disaster no matter where you put us no matter the sport, even if we were really good high school or college athletes)?

For me, I was a college volleyball player, but I'm in my 50s now. I certainly couldn't be a hitter or even a setter. Could I be a libero and just play defense? Well...hahahaha I mean sure I could, but I would get smoked play after play. But I know I could make SOME plays in that position. Not most, and not many, but SOME. But otherwise, man, I can't think of a position in any sport where I'd actually have anything resembling a whiff of a chance of not getting utterly destroyed.
Esports.

Easily track and field though. Running.
 

Cesar Crespo

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100% right. And he may be short, but he was (presumably still is) strong as hell. Trying to post him up would be a heck of a lot harder than people here might imagine. Bogues would crush us easily. Don't forget, unlike Scal, Muggsy was actually a legitimately good pro.
He's 130 lbs. He can be as strong as he wants to be. There are people on this board a lot stronger than Muggsy Bogues.
 

The Gray Eagle

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Maybe this board because it's all 40+ old dudes. I'm sure a lot more people could beat Bogues one on one than Scal. Size means a lot one on one. Not many people are beating Scal one on one, even if they are a better basketball player. Worse basketball players than Muggsy could beat Muggsy one on one.
Oh man, can you please try to find him through the internet and challenge him to a game of 1 on 1? I would pay to see that for sure.
I don't think you understand how good Muggsy was. He retired with the best assist-turnover ratio in the history of the NBA. He was one of the quickest athletes of all time and could jump like crazy.

No one here is posting him up, because he would steal the ball after one or two dribbles. Or more likely, he would let you go by, then swat your layup attempt from behind, grab the ball and keep it the rest of the game.

If he has had more than one knee replacement, maybe someone here could score a couple of baskets on him.
 

Cesar Crespo

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E-sports doesn't count. :)

What event in running would you do and how would you fare against the best competition in the world? (because that's what we're talking about here)
The marathon. And probably an hour behind. I'd finish though. I figure I'd finish highest in that event because a lot of people can't run a mile, never mind 26.
 

Cesar Crespo

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Oh man, can you please try to find him through the internet and challenge him to a game of 1 on 1? I would pay to see that for sure.
I don't think you understand how good Muggsy was. He retired with the best assist-turnover ratio in the history of the NBA. He was one of the quickest athletes of all time and could jump like crazy.

No one here is posting him up, because he would steal the ball after one or two dribbles. Or more likely, he would let you go by, then swat your layup attempt from behind, grab the ball and keep it the rest of the game.

If he has had more than one knee replacement, maybe someone here could score a couple of baskets on him.
I'm not 6'3 and 200+ lbs. I'm 5'9 and weigh 8 more pounds than Muggsy.
 

BaseballJones

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He's 130 lbs. He can be as strong as he wants to be. There are people on this board a lot stronger than Muggsy Bogues.
Yes they may be stronger. But they have to also have a handle such that they wouldn't get their pocket picked by Bogues. And if they miss, they're not stopping Bogues from scoring every time. Layup city.

And just for some point of reference....I was, and still am, a good basketball player. And I played once against a good D1 guard and it was almost impossible for me to advance the ball up the court against him. And this D1 guy wasn't even close to as good as Bogues was. Now Bogues is older so he's not as quick as he used to be, but it would still require a herculean effort for almost everyone on this board to possess the ball against him. And then you'd have to be strong enough to power him.

And no way is he 130 pounds now. He was listed at 136 in the NBA but, well, as we get older, we get bigger.
 

BaseballJones

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The marathon. And probably an hour behind. I'd finish though. I figure I'd finish highest in that event because a lot of people can't run a mile, never mind 26.
Yeah that's pretty impressive. I have a ton of respect for marathoners. Good on you...that's a remarkable achievement to be able to do that. I can play basketball or tennis or volleyball *all day long* but I can't run more than 2 miles straight. It's weird.
 

Spelunker

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100% right. And he may be short, but he was (presumably still is) strong as hell. Trying to post him up would be a heck of a lot harder than people here might imagine. Bogues would crush us easily. Don't forget, unlike Scal, Muggsy was actually a legitimately good pro.
Yeah, I couldn't come close to taking Bogues.

Cooz, maybe.
 

DJnVa

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E-sports doesn't count. :)

What event in running would you do and how would you fare against the best competition in the world? (because that's what we're talking about here)
Well, the question was which one could we fare the best. I don't think any of us are under the illusions that we'd be in any way competitive.

If we go back 20 years ago I could probably play 1B. And hit like .045. At best :)
 

Cesar Crespo

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Yes they may be stronger. But they have to also have a handle such that they wouldn't get their pocket picked by Bogues. And if they miss, they're not stopping Bogues from scoring every time. Layup city.

And just for some point of reference....I was, and still am, a good basketball player. And I played once against a good D1 guard and it was almost impossible for me to advance the ball up the court against him. And this D1 guy wasn't even close to as good as Bogues was. Now Bogues is older so he's not as quick as he used to be, but it would still require a herculean effort for almost everyone on this board to possess the ball against him. And then you'd have to be strong enough to power him.

And no way is he 130 pounds now. He was listed at 136 in the NBA but, well, as we get older, we get bigger.
We also get shorter. I'm not sure the "bigger" in this sense is ideal either. I was being hyperbolic when I said people on this board could beat him. He'd be far easier to beat than Scalabrine though.

And, ok. Maybe he's 140 lbs?

40406
 

reggiecleveland

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We had a thread about this, and I love these stories, I think in a way I justify not making it to the pros, in that I just didn't have the physical gifts.

Anyway, repeating this but is, one of my favorites.

Gordie How as in his 70s playing a charity hockey game. These game often have alternating shifts, the local DJ, mayor of the town, non players on one shift, then local hockey stars vs retired pros, where they go at it a bit. In the semi serious shift there is a big guy around 20 taking it way too seriously, he is hitting people, getting his stick up, etc. What's worse when the shifts gets mixed he was hitting the non players. A guy I know former nhl guy is around 40 at the time is discussing who among them was going to take this kid on, noting he was a big strong dude, and they were not sure they were up for it, when BAM!. Howe stands over the concussed kid, "Smarten the hell up!"