The Wright Moves

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The "let's" is actually another example of Clark referring to Wright in the plural. Clark never got tattoos, just Wright. Once he was in Prides Tattoo in Miami Beach for more than five hours getting just one.

"Yeah, now he's running out of space," Clark says.

Since he entered the NBA, Wright has gotten himself nearly 30 tattoos. (He's got 31 total.) If you haven't noticed that in the game, it's because his mother asked him not to tattoo his neck or his biceps, and so far, he's respected her wish.

When Dorell first started tattooing himself, Stacy Wright was upset. But soon, he got a tattoo of her glamour-shot photo on his right forearm. She's in French braids and a fur cover-up, and underneath, it says "World's Greatest Mom." She couldn't exactly complain about that one.

Wright got his first tattoo in high school on his right arm. It says "PUSH," which stands for "Play Until Something Happens." He's got WWJD on a wrist. When he got drafted by the Heat, he got BLESSED down his leg. All are in green ink. Though Wright is not very religious, many of the others are biblical. Stacy Wright says she's thankful for that; still, it's clear she has an aversion.

"Oh my God, is it 31?" she says when she learns the current number. "I stopped counting 'cause I don't like to look at them."

She told him that he was a professional now and that when he got older, it wouldn't look good. But then she found out why he was getting them.

"That was keeping him strong in the beginning of his career because he wasn't playing much," she said.

At the time Wright was getting all the tattoos, his mother was taking a college course in psychology. Somebody made a presentation about kids who deal with pain by cutting themselves and how tattoos were related to that. Stacy Wright called her son immediately and asked if he was getting the tattoos to deal with his emotional pain. He told her yes.

"That was his little outlet," she says, sounding worried.

Wright is still hanging out at the tattoo parlor about twice a week, according to somebody who answers the phones at Gallery Prides.

It's not surprising, considering he has gotten few minutes in recent games. When Dwyane Wade came back for the Hornets game, Wright wound up back in a suit. Though he played in subsequent games, it appears unlikely that Wright is part of Riley's playoff plans.

"The current situation is not the desired state," said Calvin Andrews, Wright's agent. "He [Wright] also understands that it's the situation he's in. He will work hard to improve his situation."

Then Andrews brings up the obvious point that being Dorell Wright is still pretty awesome.

"If your biggest problem is you're not playing, you don't have problems," Andrews says. "If your biggest problem in life is that you didn't play in last night's game, you have a great life. You need people to bring you back, keep things relative to the real world."

There's a brutal little piece of reality hanging above Clark's bed that Wright sees almost every day. It's a painting of a man, crouched and looking out over a long, tortuous trail. At the man's side, an arrow-shaped sign reads "To the pros."

Asked whether playing in the NBA was one of his dreams, Clark says: "It was. My bones is crackin' now, so I sit back and watch. Now these kids 20 years old coming out of high school are ready to play in the NBA. That's what they're looking for. They looking for young talents. I can still play, but they ain't trying to take me, and not for no millions."

By early April, with Wright riding the pine, Clark has stopped taking reporter's calls, as has the Wright family. If the Heat franchise has plans to promote Wright as a future star, those plans are on hold.

It's too late, then, to ask Clark whether he feels jealous of Wright; but Coach Harden is qualified to answer. "I don't think there's any animosity," he says. "I think he [Clark] really appreciates being there and that Dorell has allowed him to come and share his life with him."

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Ashley Harrell
Contact: Ashley Harrell