Scalabrine thinks Bulls have talent to reach Finals
Brian Scalabrine was known mostly for being sort of a red-haired victory cigar in Boston the past three years.
When the Celtics had a game in hand, the home fans would chant his name and go crazy if he got on the court and scored. Some Bulls fans have picked up on that tradition already in preseason, and he's OK with that.
"Usually, it takes a while for that to build. It started early in Chicago, Scalabrine said Thursday at the Berto Center. "I've never understood why. I guess they feel I'm more of like a common guy, a normal guy. I'm not here because I'm just talented. I worked my tail off to get here.
With that niche firmly established, it's easy to forget about Scalabrine's penchant for winning. After leaving USC in 2001, he started his career with New Jersey, which went to the Finals twice led by Jason Kidd.
"Last year would have been big if we (the Celtics) won it, which we should have, Scalabrine said. "I would have two rings and four Finals in nine years.
The only other player on the Bulls roster who has been to the Finals is Kurt Thomas, who went in 1999 with the Knicks. Having been there before, Scalabrine believes the Bulls might have what it takes.
"I think we have a team this year that could make it to the Finals, he said. "Obviously, Miami and Boston are there. I don't think we're going to sneak up on any teams.
"We're going to be prepared. We have the size and the length to play against Orlando, Boston, Miami. Whether our studs make more plays than their studs at the end of the day will determine who goes back to the Finals.
Scalabrine got to know the Bulls well during the epic seven-game playoff series against Boston in 2009. But being with them in practice every day has given him a new appreciation for Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose.
"Jo is better than I ever imagined, Scalabrine said. "I'm not saying I didn't think he was good. But his motor is just so unreal and relentless.
"His IQ is high; his feel (for the game) is high. That's amazing to me.
"Then you add a guy like Carlos Boozer to that. At the end of the day, your bigs are the reason why you go to the NBA Finals or win the championships. In the history of the league, besides probably the Bulls with (Michael) Jordan, the two bigs have got to be top-notch defensive guys and top-notch IQ guys.
As far as making the jump from Boston to Chicago this summer, the obvious connection is new Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, an assistant with the Celtics the past three seasons.
"I've always believed in Tom, Scalabrine said. "I know that he was a big factor in us winning it in '08. It's a good opportunity for me to help him out and maybe get a chance to come out here and play.
Thibodeau obviously appreciates Scalabrine, too. Asked why he favored bringing the 6-foot-9 forward to the Bulls, Thibodeau provided a long list of reasons, from being a great teammate to always being ready to play, even after a long layoff.
"In Boston, every time we had an injury and he started, he did a great job for us, Thibodeau said. "I'm comfortable with all the things he can do on the court. I think his team defense is excellent. He keeps the ball moving offensively and he's a capable shooter.