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.
The NBA’s trade deadline day is often a manic affair. There are slow periods of course, but then, once the deals start getting called in, we all collective lose our minds. In truth, we want it to be — it’s just another element that further separates the league from any other in terms of minute-by-minute entertainment value. Sure, we enjoy the actual sport more too, I suppose, but there’s nothing quite like a frenzied day of NBA trade speculation and pay-off, entire careers and lives turned upside down in an instant, to really sate the appetite.
The Raptors were not immune to the action on Thursday, finally offloading Bruno Caboclo, but they were not the major players either. We’ll give that distinction to their forever out-of-reach rival, the Cleveland Cavaliers. It was LeBron’s team that was able to undo whatever had been wrought in the off-season — goodbye Isaiah Thomas, Dwyane Wade, Jae Crowder, and more — hello Rodney Hood, George Hill, Jordan Clarkson, and Larry Nance Jr. For Toronto, this isn’t great, but it is what happened.
Delon Wright was never really at risk to be traded. Toronto needs his idiosyncratic game, they need his stewardship of the on- and off-ball backup point guard role, they need all the little things he brings to the team (the Euro-step, the offensive rebounding, the long-armed defense). How this works out in the future with Wright and the Raptors is anyone’s guess, but, for lack of a better cliche: it is what it is.
In one sense, it’s really easy to summarize Edward Yang’s Yi Yi. (The title translates to something like A One and A Two..., as if we’re counting in a tune.) The film is about the Jians, one family in modern day Taiwan, as they go about living their lives. There’s the mother and father, Min-Min and N.J., a pair of kids — the teen-aged Ting-Ting, and the little Yang-Yang — and then there are the events and obstacles set in their way. It’s an oversimplification of course, but also: that’s the heart of the film.
But in another sense, Yi Yi is impossible to summarize, containing as it does the grand expanse and minutia of that very same every day life. The mother deals with grief, the father deals with stress, the daughter deals with guilt and first love, the son deals with his own endless curiosity. There are other characters — uncles, cousins, business partners, neighbours. Everything is happening all at once, and the protagonist of one story, certain their feelings and struggles are the most important, is but a background player in the others. That’s how a family operates, and it’s how the broader network of society comes to be. It’s also what ultimately makes the film so affecting. We recognize ourselves in the Jians’ ups and downs, in their miscommunication, in their hopes and regrets, in the connections and the disconnections. It’s all there.
To try to encapsulate all of that in a logline descriptor shortchanges a film as monumental as Yi Yi. It really shouldn’t just be said to be about “each member of a middle class Taipei family seek[ing] to reconcile past and present relationships within their daily lives.” But then, that’s what it is — everything, nothing, all and none, and constantly barrelling forwards together into the future.
If deadline day taught us anything it’s that the core of the Raptors are in it now, come what may. There’s chance they could make a move at the buyout deadline when veteran players become available, but the roster — with Wright — is set. There’s no second chance at that.
The day’s events have me wrung out like N.J. by the end of Yi Yi. He goes through a wedding and a funeral, watches his daughter from afar as she goes through some sort of emotive transformation, comes to the aide of his young son after the boy almost accidentally drowns, deals with his struggling business enterprise, and he runs into and spends time with the former love of his life — the woman he was maybe supposed to marry all those years ago. It’s a lot.
Rather than try to guess at what Delon is thinking today (one of his mentors, Dwyane Wade, got to return home to Miami, by the by, for one last kick at the can), I’ll turn it over to our man N.J. and the voice he gives to Yang’s beautiful, lasting words:
“I had chance to relive part of my youth. My first thought was then i could make things turnout differently but they turned out the same or not much different. I suddenly realized that even if i was given a second chance i wouldn’t need it, I really wouldn’t.”
On to the rest of the season.