There’s no quit in Dorell Wright, both literally and figuratively. He was a member, but seldom-used player, of the title-winning Miami Heat squad in 2006, then went on to stints with Golden State and Philadelphia, before landing in the Pacific Northwest this season with the Trailblazers. Wright’s basketball season doesn’t end when his NBA team’s does though, in the summer you can find the athletic Wright ballin’ out in L.A.’s Drew League during the summer, something he’s done for damn near a decade now.
Like we said, there’s no quit in the kid.
We caught up with Wright at Barclays Center just before the Trailblazers faced the Brooklyn Nets on Monday night – a game they’d end up winning, 108-98 – to find out about life in Rip City, the Drew League, and a baseball career that might have been.
Starting5: You’ve played on a number of teams in major cities, with other major sports franchise’s sharing the spotlight. How is it now for you playing in a city where the Portland Trailblazers are the only pro sports team in town?
Dorell Wright: It’s pretty sweet because, like you said, we’re the only pro team there. They cherish their team, they don’t take their team for granted, everybody come out each and every night to support the team and that’s what it’s all about. When you got a great fan base, and people that care about your craft, it’s always awesome to play in front of those people.
S5: Portland have a good young nucleus now, you’ve started the season 8-2. What’s been the key to that great start?
DW: The number one thing is playing together. You know, buying into Coach Stott’s system…when you do that and you come out here and defend, you put yourself in a great position to win games and things like that. What we’ve been doing this year is putting ourselves in a great position to win, and I’m really happy with that right now.
S5: The team goal is to win an NBA championship, what’s your personal goal this season?
DW: [There’s] not really a personal goal. I just want to win, man. Get back to these playoffs, this is the right situation, we got the right team to get there and I just hope we stay healthy and continue to trive for it.
S5: Let me switch it up for a second here, I want to talk about the Drew League. You’ve been a regular there for the last nine or ten years. What’s so fun about playing there for you?
DW: Number one thing is that’s somewhere I grew up, going to watch people play. I grew up in the area, and my father used to play [at Drew League]. It just gives the kids of the community an opportunity to see NBA players up close and personal [which] is awesome for the community. Those kids and parents really can’t afford tickets to come to Staples Center and see NBA players, so we bring them right to the inner city and the community really appreciates it.
S5: Playing there obviously helps your game, keeps you sharp, right?
DW: In L.A. we have a lot of good talent, guys come in-and-out from different places to come play there [Drew League], so the competition is really heavy. A lot of people are in there competing at a high level, and when you got guys coming in there competing at a high level, trying to get better and working on your craft, it makes it that much more fun and competitive.
S5: How you ever played out here in New York?
DW: I played out in the Rucker one year when that was real poppin,’ but I haven’t played since.
S5: Any plans to come back? Dyckman is probably the hottest tournament out here now—
DW: Is Dyckman outside? I ain’t playing outside. I’m from L.A. We West Coast dudes don’t play outside. We play indoors. [Laughs].
S5: Jamal Crawford actually told me the same thing last year about not wanting to play outdoors anymore. Rucker Park did have the wooden hardcourt out this summer though.
DW: Yeah, I saw that. That’s pretty sweet, but you know we gotta’ be on wood floors for us West Coast guys to play!
S5: I’ve been told you were also quite the baseball player when you were younger. How far do you think you would have gotten if you’d pursued that?
DW: Man, I think I probably would have gotten pretty far. Baseball was always my number one sport growing up, and I was real good at it. When you’ve been doing something for so long as a kid, and you’re here, and here, and here, you know how it is when you’re young. [Then] something new comes along and you want to take advantage of the opportunity. So, that’s what I did. I took advantage of the opportunity to play basketball. I was getting a lot of looks in basketball, so I took advantage of it.
S5: Who’s your favorite MLB team?
DW: Dodgers all day.
S5: What about players?
DW: Matt Kemp is a close friend of mine so I like [him] a lot. Umm—
S5: Are the Dodgers going to make a play for Robinson Cano?
DW: I don’t know. He might be out of our budget! [Laughs].
Image via: Isaiah Dowling/USA Today
Bottom image via: Gemini Keez/Keez On Sports