Drew Gooden: "I've looked up to Kevin Garnett and Dirk Nowitzki"
You were All-State in High School and an All-American in college. When did you first believe you had a chance at going pro?
Drew Gooden: I think this year. I always had the dream, but I think this last year in college gave me the idea that I could play on the next level.
When you were growing up, practicing, is there anyone who you practiced with that you’re going to get to play against in the NBA?
DG: In the 8th grade, Brandon Armstrong from the Nets and I played on the same traveling team. Actually, there are a couple of other guys that we played against that are in the NBA now. It’s funny that we all grew up together and played together and now we’re playing at the highest level.
So, take me back to the 8th grade. You’re practicing, shooting by yourself in your driveway or at the gym, and you’re counting the clock down, 3 - 2 - 1, imagining that you are actually your basketball idol and that you’re hitting buzzer beaters for the NBA Championship. Who are you pretending to be?
DG: Man... It was always Jordan.
Is there anyone besides MJ that you look forward to playing against?
You don’t have to look forward much longer. You’re pretty much here. How’s it feel to put on a Memphis jersey and play?
DG: It feels good. I feel like I’m finally at that level to play and it really is a dream come true. I’m ready.
Your summer league jersey number is '44'. Are you going to have '0' on your NBA jersey like at Kansas?
DG: Oh, I already got my own Grizzlies jersey with the big ‘O’ on it.
What’s the significance of that number?
DG: I wear the ‘O’ to remind me that I came from nothing and now I’m in the NBA.
So, you’ve picked your own number on your own NBA jersey. Soon, you’ll have your own basketball shoes and you’ll have to pick a name for them. Any ideas?
DG: I’ll probably call’em the “Drizzels”.
The Drizzels. Solid. One last question. I was reading your profile on the Kansas website and it says your favorite food is hot buffalo wings. Do you think you could eat more wings in a row or hit more free throws in a row?
DG: (Laughing) I’d probably eat more hot wings in a row... I love’em.
Jon Finkel is a regular contributor to HoopsHype.com
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