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Hey Dallas: It's time to give Drew Gooden a chance
Maybe it’s the weird facial hair or the less-than-ordinary ‘dos that have turned teams off of Drew Gooden.
You know the looks I’m talking about.
When Gooden first arrived at KU, he had a clean face, a goofy smile and seemed to play the way he looked — like a kid.
But something happened to KU’s 16th all-time leading scorer (1,526 points) and former All-American during his transformation from amateur athlete to journeyman pro that caused a severe change in his appearance.
It started simple enough. After a few years in the NBA, Gooden added facial hair to his look. At first, the slick, slim goatee seemed like a nice look.
Then, as if unable to control himself, Gooden let the thing grow and rocked the full-fledged beard.
Things only got more wild from there. At one point, when he was playing along side LeBron James in Cleveland, he shaved it all off except for a small tuft of hair above the back of his neck. The look was unique, there’s no disputing that. But, aside from a few die-hard Cavs fans who played a dangerous game of follow the leader, the look never took off.
After moving to Chicago, Gooden dumped the duck tail and brought back the goatee, with a twist — literally.
Not bad, but definitely weird.
Then, after playing for his fourth team in six years, Gooden was shipped to Sacramento, where he returned to his clean-shaven days. After playing just one game with the Kings, Gooden moved to San Antonio, where he played 19 games for the sixth team in his seven-year career to close out the 2008-09 season.
That brings us to today, when Gooden, an unrestricted free agent, has agreed to sign with the Dallas Mavericks.
The question here isn’t so much about what happened to Gooden to make him change hairstyles faster than Hollywood stars change relationships. The question here is what happened to the NBA that made Gooden the fourth overall pick (by Memphis) in the 2002 NBA Draft and now acts like it wants no part of this ultra-talented player.
I don’t have an answer. Maybe you do.
Maybe you can tell me why teams haven't been interested in a guy who’s relatively young, freakishly athletic and stacked with size, scoring prowess and defensive potential.
Maybe you can tell me why so many teams have been so quick to dismiss the 10-point and 7-rebound minimums Gooden could deliver on a nightly basis, or, better yet, why teams won’t give him the opportunity to become the 15-18-point, 10-12-rebound guy he has in him.
Again, I’m at a loss for words.
During his up-and-down NBA career, Gooden has been everything from a starter and key contributor to the forgotten man at the end of the bench. For the most part, he’s been injury free, which only confuses things more. He has a great offensive game — can shoot from distance and score inside — and has the size, length and body type to become a good, if not great, defender. He just needs someone to work with him the way Roy Williams did when Drew was at KU.
He just needs a chance.
Maybe Dallas and wild-and-crazy owner Mark Cuban will be the perfect fit for the journeyman forward.
Dallas will be Gooden's seventh new home, his seventh new jersey number and his seventh new team. Let’s hope the Mavs are the team that understands Gooden the best, all the way from the wild and wacky hairstyles to the incredible potential he still possesses.