Amidst the names of shooting guards in the late 90s to early 2000s, Wally Szczerbiak rarely comes up. Well, if you didn’t know, Wally squeezed in a well-deserved All-Star selection in one of those years, not just because the Conference lacks a body in a position of need. (*Cough, cough,* Jamaal Magloire.) But after a rock-solid 13-year career in the NBA, what happened to Wally Szczerbiak?
Who is Wally Szczerbiak?
Walter Robert “Wally” Szczerbiak, Jr. was an NBA veteran who played for various teams in 13 seasons. Wally’s dad, Walter Sr., was a star for Real Madrid back in the day, and Wally Jr. was actually born in Spain. Wally’s grandparents, though, were Ukrainians who met in a German camp in World War II and then immigrated to Pittsburgh. Because of his European upbringing, Wally can fluently speak Spanish and Italian.
From an early age, Wally was around basketball a lot. He practically grew up with a basketball in his hands. His dad was pretty good himself, once setting a Spanish league record of 65 points in one game. After Walter Sr. retired, the Szczerbiaks settled in Long Island, New York, where Wally slowly made a name for himself in high school competitions. As a senior at Cold Spring Harbor High School, Wally averaged 36.6 points and 15.9 rebounds.
Despite his brilliance, though, Wally remained under the radar and went unrecruited for college. In time, Szczerbiak played for Miami University for four years and was named to the school’s Hall of Fame.
Overview of Szczerbiak’s Career in the NBA
Szczerbiak was picked sixth overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 1999 NBA Draft. He quickly developed a reputation as a limited but efficient scorer with a deadly outside touch. Wally started and played all 82 games for the T’Wolves in his second and third seasons. He was named a coach’s selection for the All-Star game in 2002, a year when he averaged 18.7 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 3.1 assists per game while shooting over 45% from deep.
After that All-Star showing, Szczerbiak’s health issues were his undoing. He still managed to play 81 games in the 2005-06 season, but that was pretty much his last healthy season. Plus, that was the year Flip Saunders made Wally the sixth man, a move he was not a fan of. He returned as the starter for the next season, but he was pretty much shot in the knees and ankles to play the majority of games.
From Minnesota, Szczerbiak made quick stops at Boston and Seattle. He ended his career as a reserve for the LeBron James-led Cavaliers for three seasons. The last one was in 2008-09 when the Cavs lost the Eastern Conference Finals, 2-4, to the Orlando Magic. He still had high hopes of returning in 2009, preferably for his hometown Knicks, but a third surgery practically crushed all that. Doctors revealed he had so little cartilage left on that knee that it was nearly bone on bone.
What Happened to Wally Szczerbiak?
Szczerbiak was apparently not ready to ultimately turn away from basketball after his NBA days. He transitioned from the hardcourt to the booth as a sportscaster for CBS College Sports. He is currently an analyst for the MSG Network, mainly covering Knicks games as a backup for Walt Frazier.
Wally Szczerbiak Life After NBA
It appears Wally is enjoying his life after his NBA career. The listed Wally Szczerbiak career earnings are over $74 million over his 13-season career, and he is still using his wealth of basketball knowledge as an analyst. Recently, though, Szczerbiak found himself in hot water after taking a shot at Indiana Pacers’ All-Star guard Tyrese Haliburton.
As you can see in the video, Wally called Haliburton “Mr. Supposed Fake Wannabe All-Star.” He complimented Hali a little bit by describing him as a “very good player” but tried to tell fortunes by predicting the Pacers guard won’t make the All-Star team. (He did, by the way.)
This immediately garnered many reactions from fans, viewers, and Haliburton himself. During an interview with Taylor Rooks, Haliburton said this about Wally: “He had a lot to say about me. I was really questioning at first like ‘Who is this?’ and ‘why is he talking about me like this?'”
“I don’t know if I ever came out and said, ‘I want to be an All-Star this year! Please vote for me!’ I think he was just excited about a Knicks win, and that got him going, but he’s just doing whatever he can to get attention.”
After receiving flak for his comments, Szczerbiak apologized to Haliburton on air, squashing the beef.
Wally Szczerbiak: “I want to address something I said about Tyrese Haliburton being a ‘wannabe All-Star’: I want to apologize personally to Tyrese Haliburton…wonderful young player…definitely in the All-Star conversation – along with guys like Julius Randle & Jalen Brunson…” pic.twitter.com/rvt7YZZ4Wm
— New York Basketball (@NBA_NewYork) December 22, 2022
“I want to address something I said about Tyrese Haliburton being a ‘wannabe All-Star’: I want to apologize personally to Tyrese Haliburton…wonderful young player…definitely in the All-Star conversation – along with guys like Julius Randle & Jalen Brunson…”
5 Wally Szczerbiak NBA Career Highlights
Szczerbiak was a pretty good NBA player who may have done better if not for his knee and ankle injuries. Here are some Wally Szczerbiak NBA career highlights for your satisfaction:
1. Szczerbiak Dunks on Erick Dampier
As they say about white guys, Wally had “sneaky athleticism.” Of course, NBA guys are some of the world’s best athletes; plus, Wally himself is 6-foot-7. However, he was better known as a knockdown shooter, so this dunk against the Dallas Mavericks caught everyone by surprise.
2. Szczerbiak Finishes LeBron’s Pass
When you’re open, LeBron James will find you. Wally made a living catching Bron’s passes for three seasons and this was one of them, flushing one down in the fastbreak in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in the 2009 NBA playoffs.
3. On the Receiving End
Wally was not just on the receiving end of great passes; he also took one from the opponent. Here, Bruce Bowen showed why he was one of the league’s “stoppers” by kicking Szczerbiak right in the face. Credit to Wally for remaining upright!
4. Wally Szczerbiak’s Best LeBron Impersonation
You can see a whole 5-minute video of LeBron James chase down blocks on Youtube, but this one was Wally’s unofficial tribute to The King. Szczerbiak surprised the Celtics’ Bill Walker from behind and swats the shot out of bounds.
5. All-Star Dunk
Wally was selected for the 2022 All-Star and made a good account of himself in the mid-season showcase. Sharing the court with Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, here’s the Wally Szczerbiak stats in the game: 10 points, three rebounds, and three assists, plus the dunk at the end of the clip above.
Wrapping Things Up: What Happened to Wally Szczerbiak?
Only long-time NBA fans know who Wally Szczerbiak was. He may not have the career of his peers, such as Tracy McGrady or Kobe Bryant, but he made a name for himself as an efficient scorer with a lethal outside shot. Szczerbiak played 13 injury-plagued years in the NBA but was named an All-Star in 2002.
What happened to Wally Szczerbiak after retiring in 2009? He was still around basketball by doing college commentary and transitioning to an analyst role for the MSG network. He faced backlash after his negative words for Tyrese Haliburton, but Wally admitted his mistake and apologized on air. Long after his playing days, Szczerbiak is still a class act.
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