We almost saw the Return of the White Mamba, thanks to the Golden State Warriors.
Backup center Jermaine O'Neal went down in the Warriors' victory over the Utah Jazz, leaving Golden State with a potential quandary on their hands. Festus Ezeli is working his way back from knee surgery, and losing O'Neal would put them in a deeper hole up front.
Jermaine O'Neal will have additional tests Sunday after being diagnosed with a sprained right knee and a strained right groin, per the team.— Rusty Simmons (@Rusty_SFChron) November 17, 2013
Desperate for a body, the Warriors entertained the idea of asking assistant coach Brian Scalabrine to come out of retirement and join the team, according to The San Francisco Chronicle's Rusty Simmons:
Well after the Warriors' 102-88 victory Saturday night, two of the team's top decision-makers stood deep inside Oracle Arena and discussed how to replace injured Jermaine O'Neal.
The conversation got so extreme that they entertained asking assistant coach Brian Scalabrine to come out of retirement to fill the void.
Before you get your hopes up, Coach Scal won't be trading in his clipboard for a pair of basketball kicks and a Warriors jersey anytime soon. Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reports the team has decided to sign center Dewayne Dedmon of the D-League's Santa Cruz:
With the injury to Jermaine O'Neal, Golden State plans to sign center Dewayne Dedmon of Santa Cruz in D-League, league sources tell Yahoo.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) November 18, 2013
Padding their frontcourt with an additional center is a necessary precaution. Not only are O'Neal and Ezeli suffering from injuries, but Andrew Bogut is notoriously fragile. Prior to this season, he appeared in a combined 44 games over the last two years. Golden State cannot afford to rely solely on him.
Standing at 7'0" and only 24 years old, Dedmon was the most realistic option available. Still, all of us would be lying if we said an encore performance from Scalabrine wasn't something we were interested in.
Scalabrine, a former second-round pick, spent 11 seasons in the NBA with the New Jersey Nets, Boston Celtics and Chicago Bulls. Boasting career averages of 3.1 points and two rebounds per game, he became something of a novelty figure.
Far from a star, Scalabrine was lauded for being Scalabrine: unathletic and undersized, but amazing all the same.
A hypothetical return would have catapulted the Warriors to the top of the Western Conference, guaranteeing them an NBA title. That's just the profound impact Scal has. He's spectacularly ordinary.
In the event that Dedmon doesn't pan out or Bogut himself goes down, the Warriors' brass should reconvene and offer Scal a spot in the rotation. It's Stephen Curry's and Klay Thompson's shooting and the Warriors' superb team defense, that has brought them this far, but it's Scal who can push them over the top.
Teams fear the White Mamba, in all his pedestrian glory. With him in the lineup, they would fear the Warriors even more than they already do.