After checking in with Julian Wright about the basketball side of things, here is more Julian in his own words. This time, however, we learn a little more about the guy behind the jersey.
Holly MacKenzie: I’ve heard your interests are a little more varied than your typical professional basketball player.
Julian Wright: It’s like that guy in the beer commercial. Have you seen that beer commercial, the most interesting man in the world? You know what commercial I’m talking about? I forget the name of the beer because I don’t drink beer at all, but it’s just funny. Those commercials are funny. Mountain-climbing, fencing, all of that stuff. I’m like, not even near the top 200,000 interesting people in the world (laughs). I just want to live life. I’m very open-minded to doing things. I love to bowl, that’s one of my favorite things to do. Poetry has been a big deal to me, I’m very artistic. I write poetry. I love music a lot, I do music, actually, as well. That’s kind of been something that gets me through the days, you know. We’re blessed… to have a pretty grueling physical job, but we get downtime. I don’t have a family, wife and kids or anything, so what am I going to do from 2:30 until 10, or 11 o’clock, you know? I try to be really expressive and I’m always doing something creative. Drawing, writing, singing, whatever. Whatever gets me through the day on that day. I might go bowling, play word games on the phone, I’m like a high school geek as well. I just like to do anything, pretty much. I’m up for anything, as long as it’s safe. Maybe that makes me interesting, I guess. I’m very spontaneous and I think that helps because our lifestyle is spontaneous. We’re here one day and and in another city the next so I’m just up for anything. I write poetry, I love reading it. I love going to Open Mics, that’s the best feeling.
HM: Spoken word is big here —
JW: Great, that’s great. Really good. New Orleans is a really artistic place but it doesn’t have a lot of outlets. I missed out on an opportunity to do some spoken word stuff in L.A. mainly because of the way our schedule was working out and things like that. By the time I got done I had to rest, but here, I definitely wouldn’t mind going to some spots, that would be cool.
HM: So, who would you say is your favor-
JW: With me, like, if you ask my favorite movie, I can’t tell you, but I know what’s in my top, whatever. It’s not even a top five, in a sense. Just, something I really, really like, something I like, something that was okay, something I won’t watch again or something that was boring. That’s kind of how I grade things. I’m very appreciative of art, even if it doesn’t do anything for me in terms of where I stand up and clap after a performance. I know if I really like it. I don’t have top five anything. I’m very eclectic, so art, it’s hard for me not to like art. Anything that someone does… unless it’s just terrible. I like Jill Scott, actually. She’s a good poet. She’s a singer, but she’s just, I like the realness of her. That’s the type of poet that I really like to read. I haven’t, to be honest, been reading a lot of poetry lately. New Orleans kind of threw that off a bit. My interest is still there but my actual reading and going places kind of died down so I’m ready to pick that back up.
HM: So, if you weren’t a basketball player what do you picture yourself doing?
JW: A songwriter and a producer. I like making music and also I would like to be a sound engineer. I love everything about music. I’m biased. I wouldn’t know what to do with myself nor do I think anyone else would know what to do with themselves if music wasn’t around. What would life be like without music? No humming, no knocking on your desks in class. Music is all about motion, you know. And, movies? Movies are all about music. Your favorite movie probably had a great music score. That’s why I would like to do that. Being a sound engineer helps you make the best sound. The optimal sound. Mixing and mastering, but also making the actual music. I’m all about making something that appeals to people’s emotions. That’s why I would be a sound engineer, so I could make sure it sounds as bright and as clear as possible. That’s what I wouldn’t mind doing if I wasn’t a basketball player.
HM: If you’re introducing yourself to Raptors fans off of the court, what should they know about you?
JW: As a person, I’m very approachable. I’m not standoffish. I think I’m a people person. I’m very down to earth. I just try to relate to people and I think I relate to people on any level. Growing up in a modest lifestyle, single-parent home, having to work hard for everything, I just try to relate to everyone. I guess that would be the first thing, let people know they can get a conversation started. I’m down to talk about whatever. That’s kind of the one thing I like. One more sidenote: I don’t mind talking about basketball, but I also like talking about anything outside of basketball as well. I want to get it across that a player has a life. They should want other people to know that they have a life just like everyone else has a life outside of their occupation. I can talk about whatever. It doesn’t have to be, “Did you see the top 10 plays on ESPN,” Uh, yeah, yeah I sure did. It doesn’t have to be all of that. Sidenote: are you recording? Because I’m talking really fast. I’m sorry about that.
HM: Yeah, yeah. Recorder’s rolling. We’re good. So, I’ve got to ask: I found a Facebook group from your days at Kansas —
JW: Okay… I don’t know where you’re going with this.
HM: Yeah, so, your fans made it and it’s called “Julian ‘The Raptor’ Wright Club”. Is this a nickname you’re fond of, and doesn’t it seem a little fitting now?
JW: Wow, that’s funny. That is really funny. I’ve heard them say that, I’ve seen them put the signs up. That’s funny… (laughs). That’s funny. Man, I forget why, I didn’t want it to stick, but now it’s really funny that it came back around like that and I’m here in Toronto playing for the Raptors. Wow. I hadn’t thought of that until you just brought that to my attention again. That is funny. That is perfect now.
HM: Yeah, that made me laugh when I saw that.
JW: Another sidenote. I’m big on sidenotes, sorry. I was talking to an associate regarding music and she was saying how things come back around. Sometimes an artist will create some kind of art and they might not like it so much, but when other people start to like it, then they start to like it, too. Your favorite musical artist probably created a song and was like, okay, let’s put it on the album, or like an artist creates a painting, and if someone puts their stuff in an art exhibit, they might be like, “Yeah it’s okay,” but when other people see it and love it, then they’re like, “Yeah, that’s not too bad, I really like that.” This [the nickname] is like that. I didn’t really care for the nickname in college, but now, if it does stick, I’m cool with it. That’s funny. That’s jokes.
HM: What’s the best thing that being in the NBA has enabled you to do for someone else?
JW: I haven’t started my foundation yet, that will probably start next summer. That is definitely the plan. I’ve tried to do things in the community. With appearances, I’ve done more than necessary just to be out in the community and show people that I am very down to earth and I’m all about the community. Now, granted I was in New Orleans and they were hurting a lot out there and it definitely moved me just to be able to help people out there. Do some events, it’s not all about money. Obviously, athletes make some great money in the NBA, but sometimes it’s about giving time. They may see you on TV, and, we’re entertainers in a sense, but at the same time there are so many kids that watch us so I want to give them encouragement. I’m more about the time as opposed to just donating. My foundation, when I do start it, of course we’ll be in the community trying to raise money for this project or that project, but I want to show my face, not just have a name behind it. I have done this on a lower scale, but when I start my foundation I can really do it on a bigger scale.