The Wright Moves

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"It tastes like Kool-Aid, don't it?" Clark says. He and Hutchinson, who met after one of Wright's games, are just friends. Tonight, she's got a party to hit, and as she leaves, I ask her if there's anything she'd like to mention about Wright. "He goofy," she says, flashing a mischievous, knockout smile.

I take a seat on Wright's black leather couch, which faces a 60-inch flat-screen television — smaller than what they wanted, actually. To Clark's chagrin, Georgetown is beating Vanderbilt. To the right of the television is Wright's desk, where pictures of his friends and family surround his laptop computer, lit up by its current screensaver — a picture of his reverse dunk against the Magic.

Wright changes the screensaver pretty often and takes unabashed pleasure in his own image. In fact, Clark recently discovered a camera full of Wright close-ups taken in his Range Rover. "I caught him taking a photo session of himself!" he says, giggling.

Like the Thanksgiving story, though, there's no spite in this disclosure. For all the good-natured ribbing, Clark seems almost protective of Wright. Asked why he isn't watching the Heat game, Clark says: "I know they're going to win, but they're not putting my boy in. D. Wade ain't playing either."

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.

"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.

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Ashley Harrell
Contact: Ashley Harrell