The Wright Moves

A straight-from-high-school phenom stays intimate with the Heat bench

By this point, Clark says, the two know each other so well that they can practically read each other's minds. That synchronicity comes with spending nearly every second together that Wright's not at practice or a game. They eat at the Cheesecake Factory together. They drink Patron together. They go out in the Grove together. When they're both in the house, they're almost always in the same room.

Wright's room is the master bedroom — a large upstairs room adorned, predictably, with only a framed photo of Wright along with a framed poster of a hand palming a basketball and a key to the City of Miami in the far corner. He got that when the Heat won the NBA championship last year.

Wright's bed looks way too small for his six-foot-eight frame, and Clark explains he'll be getting a giant new one soon that will allow him to "roll over four times." He's got a fenced-in balcony that faces the street. Clark's room overlooks the backyard and the pool, which is about six feet long and wide and three feet deep — measurements ample enough for Clark but not for his roomie.

The Heat's youngest player of all time wins prime minutes only when teammates  (and Riley) are injured.
Michael Laughlin/South Florida Sun-Sentinel/KRT
The Heat's youngest player of all time wins prime minutes only when teammates (and Riley) are injured.
Sorry, Luol Deng. Wright's got this one secure.
UPI Photo/Brian Kersey
Sorry, Luol Deng. Wright's got this one secure.

"I don't know why they put this back here," Clark says. "They should have just gave us a Jacuzzi. For a guy who's six-eight, he can't do nothing in there."

Although Clark's room is considerably smaller, this is where the young men usually find themselves hanging out. Wright often sits on the far corner of the bed, watching Clark play video games, talking on the phone, and making jokes. Asked if they're best friends, Clark shakes his head.

"Whatever he needs, I'll do. Whatever I need, he'll do," he says. "Friends come and go, but you can always count on your brothers, so that's why I look at it more like a brothership."

Although they have an NBA-financed chef to prepare their food and a maid to clean and do the laundry, Clark seems to have taken on the role of surrogate mother. He sets Wright's alarm clock for him and makes sure he gets up around 8:45 each morning. When they had a dog (Boomer, a bulldog), it was Clark who fed and walked him. Clark even helps Wright pick his outfits.

"On game days, he calls me in here, and this is what we do. We look. We look for something to wear," Clark says as he shows me Wright's mammoth walk-around closet, with a shoe island in the center containing what looks like 100 pairs of mostly Jordans. "We try to mix and match, mix and match. We try to make sure it ain't nothing we done wore before. Well, he done wore before. I don't know why I'm saying we..."

To see Wright warm up, words like springy and childlike come to mind. Throughout the Raptors pregame, he blows giant pink bubbles, hangs on the rim, challenges sterner-looking players to shoot over him, and affectionately cups the backs of people's heads. By the end of the night, he will have cupped almost every one of his teammates' heads.

When the game starts, Wright takes his place in the penultimate seat of the bench.

With 10:31 remaining in the first quarter, he blows a bubble.

At 9:55, another bubble. He has a bovine way of chewing, and from the upper deck, even with binoculars, it's hard to tell whether it bothers Gary Payton or Alonzo Mourning, between whom he is sandwiched. He looks really small, sitting there with his elbows resting on his knees.

At 7:45, he takes his gum out of his mouth and quickly puts it behind him.

At 6:30, he's chewing again, but there are no bubbles — a sign of discontent?

No, when the buzzer for the quarter sounds, Wright jumps up and gives all the players five. If he's getting worried about how many minutes he'll see tonight, he's not showing it, at least not yet. He appears outwardly thrilled that Jason Kapono came off the bench and hit three jumpers in a row. The Heat leads 30-25.

With 11:23 left in the second quarter, Wright puts the black cutoff shirt he's wearing over his jersey in his mouth. Then he lets it fall.

At 9:37, he requests a new piece of gum, and a Heat trainer gets it for him. He tosses the wrapper behind him.

At 5:39, Wade cups Wright's head. Then Wright cups Jason Williams' head.

For a good portion of the second quarter, Wright chats with Jason Williams, and it looks like Williams may be giving him pointers. The Heat steadily builds a lead, which might up Wright's chances of getting in the game.

Now 3:31. If there's a time he'll get in, it's now. Wright sits back in his chair and crosses his arms.

The minutes wind down, and at the end of the half, still on the bench, Wright blows a giant bubble. The team exits the floor, leading 56-45, and Wright cups the back of fellow benchwarmer Michael Doleac's head.

For most of the third quarter, more bubbles are blown, and not much else is happening.

With 2:14 left, Wright blows a really big one. This one pops a little on his face, and he tongues it off his cheek.

« Previous Page
Next Page »
My Voice Nation Help