On the basketball court, Bullet guard Larry Wright sometimes is torn between the Jekyll and Hyde demands of Dr. Fundamental and Mr. Flair.
Dr. Fundamental tells him to play the game as simply and as efficiently as possible. Nothing fancy, please. Just get the job done and economically by utilizing the talents of your teammates.
But the monster Mr. Flair is handing out a different message. Toss in a little pizazz, please. Mix in a spin move or maybe a little Ali shuffle or a few behind-the-back dribbles. And don't just do a plain layup; make it a dunk so the fans will ooh and ah.
"Sometimes out there, you have two ways to do the same thing," said Wright. "How you do them depends on your background; how your've been taught to play the game."
Wright has unique insight into how basketball techniques are developed in yound players, for during his formative years, he was exposed to both major basketball styles: the city game and the suburban game.
Wright spent much of life in Monroe, La., Where he learned the strong fundamental style associated with the suburban game. But during his senior year in high school, he moved to Washington, D.C., and its high-caliber playground basketball, where he was fully indoctrinated into the city game.
"I can do both if I want to," said Wright , "although I prefer the first way. I found it's easiest to be simple.
"Like when you have a breakaway layup. In Monroe, you'd lay it in. In D.C., you'd dunk it. Even though I can dunk, I'll think first about laying it in. That is first nature to me and the way I was taught."
In Monroe, Wright first began playing in his backyard, on a dirt court. Then he graduated to the local recreation center. He also was able to attend a summer basketball camp at nearby Grambling University run by Willis Reed.
"Everything I was taught was very basic and very fundamental," he said. 'And then Willis really emphasized all that. He was always preaching teamwork and passing and not worrying about your individual stuff."
But when he arrived in Washington, Wright found a new world. "It was like day and night," he said. "I couldn't believe the differences."
What Wright found were players with individual moves he had never seen a Monroe. "Everyone on the playground wanted their numbers [points], and that was it," he said. "No one cared if they won or lost, as long as they got to do their things. Everything was directed toward being flashy, no one did the easy stuff.
"When I played, I tried to convince them that if they would play as a team, they'd win. And if you win on th playground, you keep playing. If you lose, you sit out for a long, long time.
"But they wanted the oohs and ahs, not the winning. I think we were more fundamentally sound in Monroe, but there were just so many bettter players in D.C. It was unreal.
Why do city players have different style from noncity players?
"The present development of basketball can be traced right to social environment," said George Roveling, Washington Stage basketball coach and a respected man in the college ranks.
"It's not necessarily a blackman's game because blacks are more gifted physically. It's because more blacks are in the city and more blacks are hungrier than the white kids in the suburbs.
"The white kid can take the car and drive to a golf course or play tennis or maybe go to the beach or just cruise around. Or he can play basketball.
"The black kid doesn't have those options in the city. He doesn't play golf or tennis, he doesn't own a car, he doesn't go to the beach.
"His last refuge is that bent-rim basket down on the playground. And on that playground, to play he has to survive; he has to be better than the next guy. He can't survive on everyday moves to gain an identity.
"The fancier he is, the more recognition he gains. He's playing against a lot of naturally gifted players so he can't get off shots simply. He needs an extra dibble or a double pump or something different."
Raveling says for many city players, the different than for the suburban counterpart. "Basketball is a way out, maybe the only way out," he said. "And so they emulate different heroes. To them, Dr. J or Kareem or David Thompson is the ultimate hero and they style their play after those heroes."
Not that the suburban youngster doesn't have heroes. He also may want to be another Julius Erving, but Raveling says his development may never allow him to realize his goal.
"He also will normally have better coaching all the way along the line. And he'll go to summer basketball camps where fundamentals are emphasized. A city kid may never even have heard of a summer camp."
But not every city produces city type players. Take Baltimore, for example. "They don't have a great playground system like Washington or New York," said Boston College Coach Tom Davis. "So you don't get the great one-on-one players from Baltimore.
"That 's why this isn't a racial thing. It's a playground versus backyard thing. When I grew up in the Mid-west, I learned to play from books. I developed my skills from reading.
"The city kids develop their skills by watching and playing, 12 months a years. It's an accepted thing to do is the inner city. For many suburban kids, the summer means a lot of other activities other than basketball."
Davis feels the playing skills of the suburban athlete are being elevated by a combination of television and camps.
"He can use the camp as his playground," said Davis. "At a camp, he gets good quality competition daily, much more than he will at home. Then he can go back home and work on his one-on-one moves.
"With television, he can see a Dr. J and see how he moves and dribbles and jumps. It gives him a better idea of his basketball potential, the way the game can be played. You don't get that out of books."
Yet coaches may turn to certain areas of the country to recruit certain types of player.
Philadelphia, for example, long has been known for its guards. "They usually are considered intelligent and good leaders," said Davis. "They are willing to pass and fit into the team concept. If you were looking for the best playmaker in the country, you might start with Philadelphia. But you can find a quantity of good play-makers everywhere now."
New York's playgrounds have always been the capital of the one-on-one player, especially with front-court athletes. Washington, Davis believes, "just produces the most good players per capita population."
Players from small towns sometimes are risky for recruiters to sign. Coaches say they normally play out of position in high school, so they have to learn a new, sometimes uncomfortable, spot in college. But many coaches who seek the solid, fundamentally strong, well coached player turn to the Catholic school athletes no matter where they live.
"But it's getting so that even your-less-populated areas are producing great players," said Davis. "It's amazing what the young kids are doing today. Maybe in the future, there will be only one style: Unbelievable."