It’s one of the oldest clichés in sports: What are you going to do in retirement? How will the athletes that spend so much of their time immersed in their sport live without the game?
Former NBA champion Brian Scalabrine, now a broadcaster for Comcast Sportsnet New England and Fox Sports 1, has tried endlessly to scratch his competitive itch.
“I’m always looking for new challenges, especially after retiring,” Scalabrine tells SI.com. “I still play pickup ball, but it’s not the same. The stakes aren’t as high.”
That’s why Scalabrine, affectionately known as the White Mamba, will be competing in The Basketball Tournament in July. He’ll run alongside former NBA players Jason Williams, Reggie Williams and Royal Ivey for a slice of the $1 million tournament grand prize. Spurs forward Matt Bonner, along with his brother Luke, has helped assemble Team Grantland acting as the squad's general manager.
Scalabrine has been training relentlessly to get in game shape for the tournament. He competed in Isaiah Thomas’ Zeke-End Tournament in Tacoma over Memorial Day Weekend, joining forces with Thomas, as well as Celtics big man Kelly Olynyk and point guard Phil Pressey. And even at 37 years old, Scalabrine attempts to put in two workouts per day.
“If I get 10 minutes or I get 30 minutes, I just want to be ready to play,” Scalabrine says, “I think a lot of people on our team are probably thinking we’re going to win it and they’re counting on that money, so I don’t want to be the guy to take $80,000 away from them.” Scalabrine is taking a realistic approach as well. “The reality is I’ll just be a pretty solid role player on this team, getting my 8-11 points a game, that can defend and rebound my position.”
The Grantland team will compete in the West region against Nate Robinson's Seattle-based squad. Lakers guard Nick Young will coach LAUNFD, the three-peat Drew League Champions, with a roster littered with former NBA players Dijon Thompson, Ike Diogu and Bobby Brown.
In just the second year of The Basketball Tournament, the event has exploded, with 97 teams all loaded with talent registered this summer.
Longtime NBA veteran Damien Wilkins will be leading a team from Atlanta, going up against an Ole Miss Squad led by Marshall Henderson as well as an Oklahoma and a Virginia team in the South region.
In the Midwest, possible NBA lottery pick Frank Kaminsky is boosting the “Bad Boys,” comprised of several former Wisconsin players along with Royce White. The Badgers will compete against a squad full of former Indiana Hoosiers and a team of Rick Majerus recruits dubbed the “Majerus SLU Crew.”
As always, the Northeast is loaded with talent from all across the New York, Philadelphia and Washington D.C. areas. Hakim Warrick, Donte Greene, Mike Sweetney, Smush Parker, Austin Freeman, Ramon Moore, Khalif Wyatt, Dionte Christmas and Ramon Galloway will all be competing amongst the region's teams.
But, with comedian Michael Rappaport as Team Grantland’s secret weapon, Scalabrine thinks this competition is already in the bag with the Big Red Three of himself, Rappaport and Bonner creating a trio like we’ve never seen before.
“It’s just three really funny guys and it’s just gold,” Scalabrine says. “Media gold, marketing gold, it’s going to be tournament gold."