I do not know where to look when I talk to the mascot of the Minnesota Timber-wolves, who is dressed like, well, a wolf.
He has a huge synthetic head and obvious paste-on eyes, so I think he really sees me through his mouth. I address my questions to his mouth. I establish good eye-to-mouth contact.
"How often do you hit that shot?" I ask.
"Twelve percent of the time," I think he says.
The shot in question was the best basketball shot I had seen in this entire basketball day. The wolf stood with his back to the basket at center court in the Phoenix Civic Plaza last Saturday afternoon and, without looking, heaved the ball over his head and drew nothing but net! It might be the best shot I've ever seen, certainly the best by a man dressed as a wolf.
"Was that 12 percent?" I ask.
"Twelve percent," the wolf says, clearer this time.
I have figured him out. His eyes must be in his mouth. His voice comes from his neck. I have to admit that I find nothing strange with that.
I am at the NBA All-Star Weekend. I am in a curious world where all cards have been shuffled and anything is possible. Millionaire college dropouts can advise an arena full of kids to stay in school, and rap stars can shoot basketballs and basketball stars can rap, and five Shaquille O'Neals can play five other Shaquille O'Neals in a single game on a large screen straight in front of my eyes.
All doors are clearly open. Charles Barkley is talking about running for governor of Alabama as a Republican but is worried about "too many skeletons" in his closet.