WASHINGTON -- Drew Gooden's NBA career has taken him all over the United States, from playing four seasons with Lebron James in Cleveland to playing a single game in Sacramento in 2009. One place Gooden probably didn't expect to be in 2014 was on his couch in Florida, not knowing if he'd play in the NBA again.
Several years earlier, Gooden has signed a five-year ontract with the Milwaukee Bucks. But despite Gooden's efforts to make a home in Milwaukee -- including becoming best buds with Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers -- injuries, reduced production and the emergence of Larry Sanders led the Bucks to release Gooden through the amnesty clause in January, 2013.
A year later, Gooden was spending time in Bethesda and Florida. He still was working out, but had no team. Though he wanted another chance to play in the NBA, Gooden was at peace with his situation: .
"I was happy either way, whether I was going to continue to play basketball, or if this was my destiny and that was it for me," Gooden said Tuesday. "Either road, I was ready to suck it up and go that route."
The end didn't happen. The Wizards had allowed Gooden to use their practice facility to work out, which he used to keep in shape when he was in the area. When Nene injured his knee in February in a victory over the Cavaliers, Gooden got the call from the Wizards front office.
"There [must be] cameras in here somewhere," he joked. "I guess they saw me working out for a few days and Nene got hurt and they were like, 'Drew, where you at?'"
The Wizards brought Gooden on board, but the offer was limited to a 10-day contract, so Gooden had to prove he could still play. After two games, he was scoreless. He said that his thinking before he came back was that if he played and stunk, he would have sat down and not embarrassed himself any further.
This was not to be. Gooden got his chance, scored 40 points in the next 40 minutes he was on the court over three games and eventually earned himself a contract for the rest of the year. In one of the more memorable performances of the season, Gooden had 21 points and nine rebounds to give the Wizards the series sweep over the Brooklyn Nets. He even gave a Jordanesque shrug after hitting a key jumper for the Wizards in the fourth quarter.
Gooden is happy to be back with Washington again this year and continue a career that could have been over. For a player that has been all over the league, playing in Washington last year was something special to him:
"It was a storybook ending for me," he said. "From working out and not being on the team, to being on a 10 day contract, to walking off after that last game against the Pacers. I hated for it to be over, but It was a storybook ending for me in my eyes."