Think BIG3 is a gimmick? Players say it’s true effort, the way basketball ‘used to be played’
Drew Gooden answered his cell phone Wednesday afternoon while on his way to a workout in Orlando, Florida. He greeted a reporter then asked a question of his own.
“Are you calling me about this color analyst job? I’ve got five interviews today,” former University of Kansas basketball forward Gooden said.
Nope … this interview was not designed to discuss the 6-foot-10, 250-pound, 37-year-old Gooden’s new announcing gig with NBC Sports Washington to broadcast Wizards NBA games. Instead it was meant to preview his upcoming appearance in Saturday’s BIG3 3-on-3 halfcourt basketball competition at the Sprint Center.
Gooden, a 14-year NBA veteran who last played in the league for the Wizards during he 2015-16 season, is slated to start at forward for 3’s Company in its game against Bivouac (2-2). The tripleheader, to tip off at 2 p.m., also will pit former KU guard Mario Chalmers’ 3 Headed Monsters (2-2) against Tri State (1-3) and former KU forward Julian Wright’s Power (3-1) squad against undefeated Triplets (4-0).
“I left Lawrence in what, 2002?” said Gooden. Indeed the Oakland, California native played for the Roy Williams-led Jayhawks from 1999 to 2002. “Seventeen years later, being able to still play basketball in front of Kansas fans and maybe some Missouri fans will be there … it’ll be interesting.
“I stay in shape. I bike. I do Pilates. I enjoy going to the gym and getting up shots. My father … he is actively playing basketball. He’s in shape. He sets a certain standard I have to live up to. He’s 68 and actively playing basketball,” Gooden added.
This marks Gooden’s second season playing in Ice Cube’s summertime 3-on-3 league.
“It’s like the Senior PGA mixed with WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment),” Gooden said with a laugh. “It is physical. You have to be in condition, not just in shape. It tests your 1-on-1 defense and 1-on-1 offense. It’s a new experience for me. It’s fun. I enjoy playing the game. In our favor, we don’t have to run the other way now on defense since it’s halfcourt.
“I play the majority of the game,” he added. “I’m a starter. It’s nice to say at this point of my career I’m still a starter.”
Gooden — he was won NABC player of the year in 2002 at KU — said he can’t guarantee he’ll score a bunch of points on Saturday.
But he promises one thing — effort.
“One thing I do is play hard,” said Gooden, who played in one Final Four in three seasons at KU. His jersey was hung in the Allen Fieldhouse rafters in 2003. “Whatever that leaves me — to score, rebound, block shots, will my team to victory, have fun no matter what.
“Hopefully everybody leaves the game healthy. Let’s have a good time,” he added of Saturday’s event.
Gooden said in his two seasons in the summer league he’s learned, “you can never win in 3-on-3 basketball if you focus on individual performance. Nine of 10 times your team will lose. This has to be a collective effort in 3-on-3 basketball to win games. You can’t have one guy score 50. If I score two points and we win I did my job.”
Gooden made national headlines in the spring of 2017 when he graduated from KU and walked down Campanile Hill after finishing his degree in Communication Studies online 15 years after leaving college
He; his wife, Melinda; his son, Andrew Gooden IV (6); and daughter, Norway (2 months old) live in Florida where Gooden runs four Wingstop franchises that he said, “are all doing well.” He also owns commercial property in Florida and now has his TV announcing gig that will keep him busy during the long 2019-20 NBA season.
Gooden, who was known as a candid, entertaining interview in both college and the NBA, had an interesting comment when discussing his daughter’s name.
“You know me. I’m always all over the place,” Gooden said with a smile. “I like the way ‘Norway’ flows. My mom is from Finland. I’ve never met anybody from Norway.”
Here are rosters of the teams playing Saturday at the Sprint Center:
3’s Company: Dermarr Johnson (captain), Baron Davis (co-captain), Drew Gooden (co-captain), Dijon Thompson, Andre Emmett, Jasono Maxiell, Dahntay Jones, Michael Cooper (coach).
Power: Corey Maggette (captain), Cuttino Mobley (co-captain), Glen Davis (co-captain), Mychel Thompson, Julian Wright, Ryan Gomes, Quentin Richardson, Chris Andersen, Nancy Lieberman (coach).
Bivouac: Josh Smith (captain), Will Bynum (co-captain), Anthony Morrow (co-captain), Shawne Williams, C.J. Leslie, Dion Glover and Reggie Theus (coach).
Triplets: Joe Johnson (captain), Al Jefferson (co-captain), Jannero Pargo, Chris Johnson, Sergerio Gipson, Alan Anderson and Lisa Leslie (coach).
3 Headed Monsters: Rashard Lewis (coach), Reggie Evans (co-captain), Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf (co-captain), Larry Sanders, Tre Simmons, Mario Chalmers and Gary Payton (coach).
Tri State: Jermaine O’Neal (captain), Amar’e Stoudemire (co-captain), Nate Robinson (co-captain), Yakhouba Diawara, Jason Richardson, Bonzi Wells, Corsley Edwards and Julius “Dr. J” Erving (coach).