Christmas Day is the day that wishes become reality. Usually that means a present under a tree. But for the University of Dayton’s Chris Wright, it’s an opportunity that begins on the basketball floor at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Cal.
That’s where the 2011-12 season opens for the Golden State Warriors. Wright is one of four rookies on the Golden State roster.
“It’s fun and exciting to be here,” Wright said. “I know I’ve been blessed to be in this position. What they want me to do is what I always try to do – work hard, play with high effort and high energy, and contribute to the team.”
Wright, who graduated from the University last May, had one of the best four years in Flyer basketball history. The greatest above-the-rim player to ever wear the Red & Blue, Wright is the school career record holder in dunks (177) and blocked shots (162). He is only the third UD player to be named All-Atlantic 10 conference three times.
A local high school star from Trotwood-Madison High School, Wright finished his UD career 15th all-time in scoring with 1,601 points in 123 career games. He also finished 10th in career rebounds with 886, and hauled in 298 career offensive rebounds, which places him fourth in school history.
After Wright’s senior season, the 6-foot-8 forward did not get picked in either of the NBA draft’s two rounds. The league’s lockout prevented him from proving himself in the summer leagues and he had to make a judgment call. It would have been easy and understandable for Wright to follow the path of former teammates Brian Roberts and Charles Little and play professionally in Europe.
But he would have been farther, literally and figuratively, from his dream of playing in the NBA.
Instead, Wright played four games in the D-League for the Maine Red Claws until the lockout ended. He then was invited to the Warriors training camp, where he survived three rounds of cuts before signing with Golden State.
“Every kid who ever played basketball thinks about playing in the NBA,” Wright said. “But today, I’m only thinking about doing my best, being a good teammate and leaving it all in God’s hands. A lot has happened in the last few months. I ended a great career and got my degree at UD, and now I’m here. I’m just trying to earn everything that is put in front of me.
“A lot of players go to college and say their goal is to play in the NBA. But reaching a goal makes it sound like something has ended. I want this to be a beginning and I’m going to work as hard as I can every day.”
The same combination of off-the-chart athleticism and work ethic he was known for at UD are what gave him the opportunity to play in the NBA. And an opportunity is all anyone can ask for. But one thing is for certain. This is one Christmas Chris Wright will never forget.