Today's featured guest was a bit of a star this weekend. "Sharone" was used as a safe word during our Vegas adventures. For instance, I was telling this girl outside Treasure Island about our dear friend, Tanner. She seemed intrigued.
"He works in HR, huh? Must be a good people person."
"He prefers lawn chairs, even indoors? Interesting."
"He keeps his shoe game tight? He sounds wonderful."
After a bit more Q and A, I discovered this girl was, um, ‘working.' Oops.
Sharone! Sharone! Sharone!
Off we go.
Name: Sharone Wright
Born: January 30, 1973
Sixers Tenure: 1994-1996
Semi-Believable Transcribed Phone Call Between a Young Jordan Sams and Michael Levin in 1994:
"You like the Sharone Wright pick, Jordo?"
"Nah. Yinka Dare was still on the board. More upside."
*munching of cheese fries*
If we remove hindsight and Eddie Jones from the equation, Sharone Wright, for all intents and purposes, was considered by some experts to be the sixth best player in a five player 1994 NBA draft. So I can at least sympathize with the Sixers and the predicament they faced with the #6 pick that year. It's like six people circled around a Rocky boxed DVD set and picked one movie out of a hat (similar to a key party, but not quite as taboo). Someone, unfortunately, has to go upstairs with Tommy Gunn.
I assume - although I can't say for certain given past draft history - that the Sixers would have selected one of the top-5 picks if available. And, sure, Eddie Jones went #10 overall, so it wasn't completely unrealistic that the Sixers could have selected him at #6, especially considering he was ‘a local guy.' But the Sixers can't just go around plucking all the Philly guys.
"Sure, this Iverson kid looks decent, but did you see what Kittles did against Monmouth? Allen wouldn't get it. It's a Philly thing!"
But while I can defend the pick, and the passing on Eddie Jones, I can't defend the end result.
Sharone Wright didn't pan out.
Ignoring his on-court ability for a moment, we can surmise Wright's success and popularity in this city just by his jersey sales. Nobody owns a Sharone Wright jersey. No one. No one bought a #4 Wright jersey back then, and no one wears one ironically today. I'm not even sure one exists. And if a Wright jersey is indeed out there, it's incredibly rare, like finding a Nintendo game you don't have to blow on, or an original Charles Barkley and Rick Mahorn "Thump N' Bump" t-shirt without pit stains. Wright was arguably the least exciting #6 pick in the last twenty-five years (I left some wiggle room for Joe Kleine). When you played basketball at the park, you didn't announce to your buddies, "I'll be Sharone," before clanking a jump hook off the side of the rim. "I'll be Sharone" has never been uttered in the history of mankind. You picked Barros, or you picked ‘Spoon or you just sold out and said you were the Bulls.
Sharone Wright operated on the block. His low post game was a series of glitches and jerky motions that grinded the shot clock to a nub. It was twenty-five minutes of parallel parking, or eighteen if he got into foul trouble. Wright was 6'11". He was a body, sure; but so were Jesse Ventura and Andrew Lang. Following in the footsteps of WIBR favorite, "The Hammer," Sharone was a bit of a chucker in the low post. Once Wright was fed, the ball disappeared, as if swallowed up by a vortex or Dimension X or something equally confounding.
On the defensive end, Sharone was stamped with the damning ‘soft' label. He was given affectionate nicknames like "Chiffon," "Charmin," and "Sharon." It wasn't so much boos that cascaded down from The Spectrum in the mid-90s, but catcalls really. Shawn Bradley and Wright scared no one underneath. It was a two-headed monster that wore flower print patterns and baked cookies.
"Thanks for stopping by the low post, Hakeem. Do you have any nut allergies we should know about it? Sharone, can you fetch me another place setting? Otis Thorpe should be here shortly."
Bradley and Wright were maybe the least intimidating front court since, well, let's see how this year plays out first. It was an unmitigated disaster. This wasn't 610 WIP callers labeling Sharone, "Charmin." This was his head coach.
The 76ers started the season with a No. 2 draft pick in Shawn Bradley, a No. 3 in Jerry Stackhouse, a No. 9 in Clarence Weatherspoon and a No. 6 in Sharone Wright, whom Lucas has openly been calling "Charmin" lately (you know, soft). Chicago Tribune; Jan 28, 1996
After just a year and a half, the Sixers pulled the plug on the Sharone experiment. They traded Wright to Toronto in 1996 for Tony Massenburg, Ed Pinckney, and two second round picks - one of whom played for the Baltimore Orioles. Could you imagine a trade like that happening today? Given up on the #6 overall pick after a year and a half, and trading him for Massenburg and Pinckney? Holy Scraps. Liberty Ballers would have self-combusted. Mike Levin would be dead in a gutter somewhere. This was a move, a trade that only could happen pre-internet. Now, I hit the streets when the trade broke. I did my part. I wanted my voice to be heard. I knew this was a terrible deal, even at age 11, so I made signs. I bought poster board from Michael's Arts and Crafts.
"This Trade Stinks!"
"One Pinckney, No Brain!"
"Should of Picked Eddie Jones!"
Alas, thanks to a 6 PM curfew on weeknights, I never reached the masses like I intended. The Sharone Wright Experience - from his drafting through his eventual trade - was left relatively unanalyzed by fans and historians alike. But I don't think people forgot about Sharone Wright. They know.
They just choose not to remember.