Monday , Jul , 19 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

Miami NBA Draft Pick Dorrell Wright: Man on Fire

Rewind 8 years in the past and Dorrell Wright is a fourth grader in Los Angeles, and me, Erik Woods is a rookie 4th grade teacher coincidentally at Weemes Elementary school located directed across from USC. Joyfully, I used to bring my shinny Lakers and Bulls jerseys to the massive 2 story Challengers Boys Club on Vermont and 56th street to help out brothers Corey and Mark, the cartakers of a generation of kids there, and somewhere in that massive crowd of excited faces waiting to get a little b-ball clinic and chance to play in those jerseys was Dorrell Wright.

Miami NBA Draft Pick Dorrell Wright: Man on Fire

Let it be known, never did I ask a kid at the Challengers Club, “Are you going to play in the NBA when you grow up?” Why didn’t I ask them that? It’s disrespectful, unrealistic, and non-productive to ask a kid that question that enslaves them to an unrealistic dream – an impossible dream of dreams question -, did you know a person stands a better chance of being hit by lightening twice in one day than playing in the “L.”

But Dorrell must’ve secretly harbored that dream that powered him to beat the odds and rep his city, he’s a real success story on and off the court: he’s made it to the NBA. Three years ago I asked a friend of mine named Andre Hazel just how good was Dorrell Wright, he told me that there’s nobody better than him, and this coming from someone who had coached Tyson Chandler, Jason Kapono, and Andre Patterson in the recent past. So I went out to see for myself just how good Dorrell Wright was last summer. Jaw dropping, mind numbing, and heart stopping didn’t do justice to what I saw Wright do to a Dallas Mustangs AAU team at the Best of Summer Adidas sponsored tournament.

You see, this talent evaluator from Hoop Scoop had just got the buzz going on Dorrell by saying he was playing like T-Mac, and everyone, and I mean everyone in the world wanted a piece of Dorrell Wright. A mutual friend told me that Dorrell should keep the “inner circle tight”, Dorrell listened to him and took a good hold of his life.

If you’ve never met Dorrell Wright, than you haven’t seen the brightest most sincere smile one can witness, he is the most relaxed happy-go-lucky guy I’ve ever seen. Dorrell is smooooooth like the Louis Armsring song What a Wonderful World, Dorrel looks deceptively silky in his mannerisms on the court. Just when you get comfortable, BAM, BOOM, and BOINK, Dorrell lulls you to sleep like a hypnotic cobra, and then he comes down and slams one on the opponents head, he pulls up for a net buring 25 footer, and slashes for an incredible up and under move over 3 defenders. Dorrell is so good that people make up new adjectives to describe him when watching him play. During that AAU game against Dallas last year I saw Dorrell produce more than 10 points in less than 1 minute- no joke, he hit a three, stole the inbounds pass and in one motion slammed hard on the hapless victim, came back on defense and outran the guard to pick him clean and run back for another quick three, and with a hint of exhaustion he caught a pass from a gambling teammate to dunk another two points. Whoa! His Paladins AAU team was still down by ten points, but Dorrell just never gives up, he is a man on fire.

When I think of Dorrell Wright an image of him being that helpful mentor who used to bring his ultra talented and two years younger Leuzinger high school teammate Khelcey Barrs to workout with a local AAU team, he always wants to make that difference for a fellow brother, even though Barrs would unfortunately pass away 9 months later from an on court heart condition, you just had to believe ane remember that it was nice he had Dorrell looking out for him in his short sixteen short years on earth, Dorrell is a man on fire to help others on and off the court.

I was proud that Dorrell Wright chose me last year to share his recruitment announcement to the world as to where he would go to college, I reported for him as he had asked me that he would commit to play for DePaul after a fifth year of high school if he didn’t declare for the NBA (I was thinking at the time that it was a fat chance you’d ever see him in a DePaul jersey), I knew then that Dorrell was going to tear up the high school scene up and probably leave the college game longing for him.

Dorrell did tear it up this past year in the high school ranks, the War on the Shore tourney he just destroyed all that stood in his way, he racked up immense compliments from guys like Dave Telep from the, he got big props from prep school coaching great Jason Smith from Brewster’s Academy who once told me that when his team played Dorrell that this young man was so courteous to come by and shake his hand and respectfully offer a “good luck coach” before destroying his team. Wright really solidified his place among the high school elite at the EA Sports Round Ball Classic in Chicago this year: he showed fire like few others could. Even my favorite writer Scoop Jackson, editor-at-large for SLAM Magazine wrote about Dorrell Wright and how a whole generation of kids are being told that they are the next big thing.

Yes Scoop, today’s youth is being pumped up way too much to believe that they are the next M.J., but in this case you can call Dorrell Wright a magician like T-Mac, a king like LeBron, and god disguised like M.J. all in the same breath to him- and you still get the same ol’ down to earth 4th grader that I used to go to the Challenger’s Club to help back in 1996: Dorrell Wright is a man on fire, yet he still is humble and loves all those same people around him.

For example, today is the 18th of July, 2004, I went to a local league that features college players, and there’s Dorrell Wright there watching college kids ball it up- he is unfazed by his recent selection by the Miami Heat in the first round of the NBA draft. I ask him how is his summer going and he responds, “Ah, just fine, just getting ready to go to Miami, but I had to check out the Say No for sure.” Why isn’t Dorrell being hit up like crazy for autographs? Love.

The people around him can still go up to him and know that they’ll have access to him, he is still the same ol’ 90 mph pitcher from the Leuzinger high school from last year, he still takes three-foot-six inch “shorty” kids on the court during the half-times of games and schools them on playin’ ball. Next year, he will be have to be a man on fire to play alongside Shaq in Miami, but more importantly, Dorrell is a grown man that is showing he can wear that same plain white shirt, be that kid hanging with his “boys” on a lazy Sunday, watch ball at the Say No Classic- in his beloved Los Angeles…..and it loves him back.