Chicago Bulls fans, and fans throughout the rest of the NBA for that matter, seem to be in love with one Brian Scalabrine, and rightly so. It's been a bit of a running joke over the past few years that every time he enters the game he gets cheers akin to Derrick Rose crossing over Dwyane Wade and then dunking on LeBron James' head.
Every. Single. Time.
Now, the question here is, are they going overboard, and are they cheering for the right reasons?
For the first part of that question I'll have to answer an emphatic no. So long as the cheering isn't going to his head causing him to chuck up shots every time he gets the ball (which it isn't) then let the fans have as much fun as they want.
As for the second part, I think some fans have an idea of what Scalabrine means to that team, but most of them are cheering because a guy that doesn't fit the mold of your average NBA player is even on the floor, which might not be the right reason.
However, I'm here to tell you that Scalabrine is so entertaining, so valuable and such a good luck charm that he should be included in the 2012 USA Olympic Basketball team.
Surely I jest, right? To that I say no. Let's take a look at what we know about Scal and what we know about coach Mike Krzyzewski, who's running the game.
Brian Scalabrine's History
Whenever I speak with someone who doubts the merits of whether Scalabrine should even be in the NBA, I always point first to his history.
Scal has played on three teams that have made it to the NBA Finals (the '02 and '03 New Jersey Nets), one of which won the title (the '08 Boston Celtics); another one went to the Eastern Conference finals (last year's Bulls). He has consistently played on teams that have had both regular-season and playoff success.
Why is it such a rarely used player ends up on such good teams? It's not coincidence, my friend; it's hard work.
Coming into the NBA and over his early years, Scalabrine built up a reputation as a hard-working guy who does the things fans aren't around to cheer for.
What Would You Say...You Do Here?
So what is it exactly that Scalabrine does to work his way onto these teams? Surely hard work isn't enough; if that were the case then you or I could play for the New York Knicks this year just by trying harder than anyone else.
Scalabrine works hard in practice and brings up the intensity in the gym, leading to the whole team working harder and thus meshing together better than a team that goes through the motions.
Beyond that, Scal is legitimately a good guy who gets along with everybody in the locker room. He's a glue guy that doesn't necessarily show his best work on the court or even in public view.
Fans love him because it's strange to see a white guy with a shock of red hair playing in the league, but they should love him for how he helps bring a team together faster than they would come together otherwise.
Coach K and the Olympics
For the most part, back in 2008 Coach K's Redeem Team ran about 10 players deep. During blowouts the minutes spread out a bit more, but usually, if games were close there would be two players at the end of the bench that played fewer than 10 minutes a game.
Obviously the top 10 guys are going to rival the starting lineups of the All-Star Game this season, and those guys are going to get the majority of the minutes.
Then, with the schedule looking like seven games spread out over two weeks, there will be quite a few games to play, but with a team running 10 deep, there's no reason to worry about fatigue.
So, with that, one would think that those two extra players at the end of the bench are a luxury or there in case of an emergency.
There seems to be a spot built in for a hard-working guy like Scal who will drive the other guys in practice to work hard and get along more than a roster full of just All-Stars would (remember what happened in 2004?).
The Entertainment Factor
Okay, so I won't deny it—seeing Scal playing in the Olympics would go farther than just helping mesh the team together and practice hard; it would be entertaining as hell.
Scal quickly became a fan favorite in Italy over the course of the lockout and every time he moves to a new city he inevitably becomes endeared to the fans quicker than any other player. Just think about how quickly the London crowd, whose hometown squad won't be making much of a splash, will take to Scalabrine. The atmosphere will be outrageous even during the inevitable blowouts. His presence would add an extra dimension to games usually over by the end of the first half.
Think about it: In Olympic Basketball history we remember the 1972 US team getting screwed out of the gold in the most ridiculous ending ever against the USSR, the Dream Team in 1992, 2004 when we went home with bronze and 2008's Redeem Team. That's four teams that we remember out of 17.
Put Scalabrine on this year's team and suddenly this becomes the team that turned Brian Scalabrine into a gold medalist. That's a memory right there.
So let's start it off right here and now. Forget Obama 2012; don't even think about Romney 2012—the Scalabrine 2012 movement starts now.