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The Wright Stuff Week 4: A short trip through time with Delon

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The week that was hasn’t quite happened yet, the career that will be shall carry on anyway. How to make sense of this? Let’s travel through time with Delon and find out.

NBA: Washington Wizards at Toronto Raptors Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to The Wright Stuff, our weekly column following the career of Raptors point guard Delon Wright. Since we can’t influence his training or anything on the court, we’ll recommend films that reflect his past week and hopefully inspire a leap forward. It’ll be part film breakdown, part essay, and part whatever loose piece of wisdom we can shake from the experience.

ACT 3

Now we’re ten years in the future and Wright’s career is wrapping up. He never became an All-Star point guard, or really a marketable star in the league. Befitting the trajectory of a typical 20th overall draft pick, Wright remains a solid rotation player for a decade plus, and then, one day, right now, he is not. This is the inevitable end, which is not necessarily admitted in despair.

The man in La Jeteé, sent looping through time, sees his end too (albeit with much higher stakes involved). He’s supposed to save the world of the future, but to get there he must experience the past. Ultimately, this proves to be his undoing — even as he completes his mission successfully.

Delon holds his future in his hands, and he can learn from the past as well. Unlike the fatalism of the film though, he need not be trapped by it — at least not in the same violent way. Remember always: any outcome for Wright still results in cherished memories along the way.

ACT 2

La Jeteé is a grim little film. Made by Chris Marker in 1962, the story involves a man in a future world torn apart by World War III. The scientists assembled in a post-fallout bunker in France have a plan to save it: they’ll send a man through time — to the past and then the future — to return with the resources necessary to restart the planet. The only problem is the test subjects have all died or been driven mad by the process so far. Like I said, it’s grim.

The astute among you may know that La Jeteé provided Terry Gilliam with the seed of an idea for his 1995 film 12 Monkeys. That one bends itself to a similar logic, albeit in a much more expansive way. Marker, meanwhile, shot his entire 28-minute film in black-and-white and edited it together as a series of still photographs merely suggesting movement. (Save for one heart-stopping moment I won’t spoil here.) The scientists of La Jeteé eventually find their man, and off we go tumbling through time.

The effect of all this — the grim narrative, the photographic technique — provides a mesmerizing gaze at the powers of memory and the relentless acceptance of fate. The film’s opening images of the present day — the jetty at Orly airport, a woman’s face — are anchors for the man (and us) which allow the scientists to send him back in time in the first place. This tug of persistent memory protects him on his journey. Or, to put it another way, of all the presumptive time travellers, this man is the one with the clearest sense of his past. Somewhat ironically, of course, it’s a past only created because of his future. Time travel always disorients like this.

ACT 1

This edition of The Wright Stuff was pre-written before any of this week’s games actually happened. As you read it (presumably), I’m on vacation somewhere in Los Angeles. What does any of this have to do with Delon Wright and the Raptors? Nothing, but his career is happening right now in this very moment regardless.

This discrete chunk of Wright’s year will play out as one would expect — wins, losses, some accumulated stats, maybe a startling highlight play or two (or, as is increasingly the case, three). What he truly learns, or knows, or gains (or loses), will be impossible to detect. We don’t yet know what it will change — not from where I’m sitting in this moment of the past, or from where you are right now reading this a week later. Time is funny and inexplicable like that.

Like us, Delon will remember things from the past (future?) week. We will all be shaped in some way by this time. Even if we can’t see the entire picture yet, even if we’d like to understand it all now, even if we have an ideal version of it in our minds. It just is.