Archive for Tuesday, October 15, 2002

Memphis GM sings Gooden’s praises

West thinks potential NBA rookie of year resides in Grizzlies’ lineup

October 15, 2002


— Here is more proof that Griz president of basketball operations Jerry West thinks differently than the majority of NBA executives.

Last week, the league released a poll regarding which player general managers thought would win this year's got milk? Rookie of the Year Award.

The results revealed a dead heat between Houston's Yao Ming and Chicago's Jay Williams.

Grizzlies rookie Drew Gooden of Kansas finished third with 15.4 percent of the vote.

Former Memphis Tiger standout and Cleveland rookie Dajuan Wagner, San Antonio's Emanuel Ginobili and Amare Stoudemire of Phoenix finished in a three-way tie for fourth. West was not amused. He likes the chances of a Grizzly picking up the top rookie honor in consecutive seasons. Pau Gasol won the award for the 2001-02 campaign.

"We've got the rookie of the year," West said, flatly. "You can write that."

Clearly, West hasn't been this excited about a first-year player since he swindled the Charlotte Hornets and picked up some guy named Kobe Bryant.

Following just about every Grizzly practice, West bends the ear of this scribe with remarks about Gooden's greatness.

Of course, Gooden represents the beginning of the West Era in Memphis.

It's up to Gooden to protect West's GTEA reputation (greatest talent evaluator of all-time). It also stands to reason that West would tout his top draft pick.

"He's just a good player, period,"West said. "People need to come watch him play and make their opinion then. No one should form an opinion at this point and time because we've got one terrific rookie."

It helps that Gooden already is backing up the bravado.

The 6-foot-10 forward has played so impressively that already there are whispers about him moving into the starting lineup.

Aside from averaging 13 rebounds in the first three preseason games, Gooden is looking smooth on offense. His problems are going to come defensively in terms of picking up excessive fouls.

"But he's got a great nose for the ball. He can make shots outside. He can make shots inside," West said. "When he's doubled, he can find people. Plus, he rebounds. For a young kid, he's a very complete player."

This early, Gooden sure is given how he performed one of his first rookie chores.

Last season, Antonis Fotsis brought teammates store brand donuts instead of Krispy Kremes. Gooden, though, got it right his first time.

If that isn't rookie of the year material, what is?

In case you missed it, Milwaukee guard Ray Allen said he frequently had profanity-laced arguments with former teammate Glenn Robinson, whom Allen said refused to pass the ball to teammates.

"Last year, I didn't think it was coming back," Allen said. "He was just totally resistant to everything I had to say."

Robinson now with the Atlanta Hawks said:.

"I have no respect for him. If this was a street game, I'd be going up side his head when I see him."

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