Wally has been in the news lately with talk of his bone on bone knees. But since they have been that way since his college days and he has played at a very high level, averaging almost 40 mpg over the last several years in Minny. His rehab is going very well and there is no reason to believe he won't come back and be a very important part of the team this year. He may be the veteran star we have been looking for all along!
Wally Szczerbiak has literally grown up on the basketball court. He was born in Spain while his father Walter (a former ABA player) was playing for the Real Madrid basketball team, and spent much of his childhood in Europe during his father's playing career. (The first photo is of Walter and Wally in 1980). When Walter retired, he moved his family back to his native Long Island, where Wally attended high school in Cold Spring Harbor, New York. Wally has a brother, Will, and a sister, Wendy. He married Shannon Ward in 2000 and they have 2 daughters, the second of which was born just after his trade to Boston. He was able to watch his daughter born in the morning and then play with the Celtics against Milwaukee that night.
Szczerbiak played his college basketball for Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. He graduated from the Richard T. Farmer School of Business at Miami University with a major in marketing. At Miami he led his team to the Sweet 16 in the 1999 NCAA Tournament. In his senior year, he averaged 24.2 ppg and 8.5 rpg. It was during his years at Miami Ohio that he got his nickname of "Wally World" or just "World" for short. Wally has even launched his own line of Wally World products in an arrangement with Universal Studios.
The Minnesota Timberwolves selected Szczerbiak 6th overall in the 1999 NBA Draft. He moved right into the starting lineup as a rookie. Wally exploded with 27 points during the 2000-01 All-Star Weekend in Washington D.C. He was named MVP of the Rookie Challenge Game, a game that was won by the second-year players 121-113. Another honor for Wally was being selected to play for Team USA in the 2002 Goodwill Games in Australia. In five games Wally shot an amazing 70 percent and averaged 13 points, helping the American team capture the gold medal.
His best year as a pro was 2002 when he was a coach's selection to the Western conference all star team. Szczerbiak was coming off the bench for the 2004-2005 NBA season. He was uncomfortable with the role and wanted to be a starter. In the 2005-2006 season, the former All-Star returned to the starting role.
On January 26, 2006, Szczerbiak, along with Michael Olowokandi, Dwayne Jones and a conditional first-round draft pick, was traded to the Boston Celtics for Ricky Davis, Mark Blount, Marcus Banks, Justin Reed, and two second-round draft picks. Although I really missed Ricky when he was traded, Danny's reasoning for trading him made sense. Ricky and Pierce were too much alike. Their games didn't complement each other but Wally and Pierce seemed to mesh right away. Wally is such a competitor and wants to play so much that he flew to Boston on little or no sleep, went through the physical and ran into the locker room with shoes in hand ready to play that night. Doc hadn't planned on playing him but Doc said that every time he looked down the bench there was Wally staring at him asking to be put into the game.
Not long after joining the Celtics, Wally banged knees with Milt Palacio and struggled with pain and stiffness in his knee from that point on. He underwent surgery to clean out the knee on April 11 and missed the last 7 games of the season. By all reports out of Boston, his rehab is going well and his knees feel better than they ever have. Recently, after a comment by Gary Tanguay on CelticsStuff Live, there has been a lot of concern about Wally's knees being "bone on bone." Wally had part of the lateral meniscus removed from his left knee nine when he was playing for Miami Ohio. He has been playing without padding in his knees since he came into the league and since it hasn't slowed him down so far, I don't think it will in the future either.
Szczerbiak is one of the premier shooters in the NBA, and can score in bunches without dominating the basketball. After the trade we noticed much better ball movement and much of that had to do with Wally being in the line up. He is shooting almost 50% from the field and over 40% from beyond the arc for his career. He's almost automatic from the free throw line, shooting almost 90% from the charity stripe.
When talking about the trade, Danny Ainge had this to say about Wally, “In Wally, we are receiving an All-Star player who is playoff-tested and who has been a winner at all levels.”
And Wally had this to say about his motivation, "A lot of my dreams have been fulfilled, but I want to keep getting better, because I've always believed that the better you are individually, the better your team will be. I have high aspirations in this league, and I want to fulfill them a little more every year."
We didn't really have a chance to see what Wally could do last year because he was injured not long after joining the team. Whether he starts or comes off the bench, there are a lot of Celtics fans who can't wait to see what a healthy Wally can do on this team.
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