Chris Uggen's Blog: wally, ben, and the implicit contract

Sunday, January 29, 2006

wally, ben, and the implicit contract

my t-wolves t-waded wally szczerbiak this week, sparking heated debate among hoopologists and immediate layoffs in the greater minneapolis eyebrow waxing industry. mr. szczerbiak is a marginal defender and often too slow to get his picture-perfect jumpers off against non-marginal defenders. nevertheless, i'm always impressed with his effort -- even when he's shut out of the offense by certain talent-rich but eyebrow-poor point guards.

i'm only a casual basketball fan and a laughable player, but i'll miss wally world for three reasons. first, he's got skills: year in and year out, he hits exactly half his field goals, 40 percent of his three-pointers, and 90 percent of his free throws. this makes him a very efficient and reliable offensive performer, who scores well without wasting shots.

second, my daughter will miss him. we shared a thanksgiving flight to nyc with wally, who was gracious and patient with the legions of teen and tween girls seeking his autograph. wolves uberstar KG is the team's best scorer and only passer and rebounder. now the big ticket must carry the wolves' sole heartthrob responsibilities atop his broad shoulders (i'm thinking maybe rashad mccants can work into wally's derek zoolander role, but he's gotta get some minutes first).

third, and most important to me, szczerbiak seems to abide by the implicit contract between audience and performer: like kevin garnett, he tries hard (or at least feigns interest) in every game. the wolves are likely a better team after the trade, but my personal interest generally rests more on the implicit contract than it does on the performer's esoteric skills.

i haven't bought an nba ticket since i took the family to a lakers-wolves game to share with them the spectacle of amazing athletes with prodigous skills (KG! SHAQ! KOBE!). unfortunately, the lakers were clearly uninterested in this midseason tilt. kobe half-heartedly jacked up shots in the general direction of the backboard, nobody got back on defense, and only wally and mr. garnett had even low-grade nba fever. my daughter had just started playing basketball at the time and i wanted to somehow shield her eyes. i was also hoping to spark some hoops interest in my barkleyesque (in oh so many ways) son. but if the players didn't seem to care, how could they?

that's why i'm a little nervous about the trade. the wolves get ricky davis, who is better than wally at everything but shooting. unfortunately, this will be mr. davis' fifth team since 1999. the team-oriented davis once tried to pad his rebound stats by clanging a shot off his own team's backboard. like mark blount, also acquired in the deal, his "passion for the game has sometimes been questioned" as has his "a questionable effort and attitude." in addition to davis and the center who doesn't like to rebound, we get another undersized point guard who doesn't like to distribute the ball. uh-oh. i'll be happy if they win, but i don't think i can bear to watch it.

it isn't just sports, of course. i abide by the implicit contract in any performing art. i'll walk out of concerts when i think a band is phoning it in. i've seen teachers break the contract too, though i've never walked out on them. what is nice about sports and music, however, is that amateurs play with wonderful zeal. my daughter's basketball team has a painfully low shooting percentage, for example, but those girls play hard. i saw an epic football battle this fall, in a championship game between a couple evenly matched ninth-grade teams. the level of play in high schools, colleges, and even "town ball" is often absurdly good, at least relative to the weekend athlete.

of course, i'd like the hometown pro teams to prosper too. but if we had to trade wally, why couldn't we get back a gutty ben wallace-type? he can't shoot free throws, but he is the living embodiment of the implicit contract.


At 9:56 PM, Anonymous sarah said...

Ok, I'm not sure if this offers any further insight on Ricky Davis, but he did walk in on me in the bathroom once. The incident occurred during his first (and only) year at the U of Iowa. Granted, I was breaking the rules by using the Men's room on some friends' dorm floor. But I did have one of my friends "guarding" the door. Apparently, there was no stopping Mr. Davis. Here is the conversation I had with Mr. Davis through the stall door:

(Men's room door opens)
Me: C'mon Jon, that's not funny!
Ricky: This is Ricky Davis. Who's this?
Me: (quickly grabbing the TP and turning red in the face) Nobody!

He went into the shower room and I ran out as fast as I could.

At 8:43 PM, Anonymous chris said...

well sarah, let's imagine that mr. davis had been in the women's room and you needed to take a shower. would you let him stop you?

never having lived in a dorm, i'm sure i missed some good stuff. my freshman year i paid $130 per month to room with an indonesian grad student who looked seriously nervous whenever i talked politics. ah, the bill of rights is a beautiful thing and should not be taken for granted.

i do have a similar story, though. brad sellers, a seven-foot badger basketballer who must have weighed a buck fifty, had a big beef with me that fall. i had clumsily but inadvertently trod upon his enormous and formerly-immaculate shoe at a party. fortunately no punches were exchanged and we both somehow emerged with our masculine pride intact (though he did transfer to ohio state the following year). something tells me the incident was far less memorable for him ("some long-haired slob with john lennon glasses messed up my shoe!") than for me...

At 9:58 PM, Blogger Woz said...

Ricky Davis is just jealous because the two-bit team he played for is doing nothing this season, while a less recognized school from Iowa is destroying the competition (albeit losing a tough one just a few moments ago).

The next Gonzaga? We'll just have to wait and see...

At 10:24 PM, Anonymous coach norman dale said...

plucky overachievers you say? takin' it to the big guys? i'm all over it, woz. but how would they fare against the mighty north dakota state bison?

At 8:21 AM, Blogger Penn State Punk said...

Don't be taking shots at Wally for the eye-brow waxing ..... it’s a serious issue for many of us!

At 9:47 PM, Anonymous chris said...

awww, now i feel bad. this was an unduly harsh post -- and i heard about it from all quarters. why am i so mean here? i think it must be some latent hostility regarding my own athletic mediocrity and complete ineptitude at basketball. but i realize that even millionaire hearthrobs have feelings too. so wally, i hereby apologize for the eyebrow rip. as for you, punk, your brows are beautiful! wouldn't change a thing, my man...

At 12:36 PM, Blogger renee said...

all I know about Wally is that every time he came into Panera Bread when I worked there in college, he paid with a one hundred dollar bill. seriously. it's a 6 dollar sandwich. quit showing off.......


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