Legends Spotlight: Adrienne Goodson

March 11, 2016

NBRPA writer Jon Teitel has spent time talking with many of the greatest players in WNBA history and will share his interviews at LegendsofBasketball.com. Jon visited with Adrienne Goodson about being a WNBA All-Star and hosting youth clinics.

“Goody” was a basketball star from an early age, winning numerous high school All-American honors while playing at Bayonne High School in New Jersey. At Old Dominion she began her college career by winning the 1985 NCAA title as a freshman, and finished it by being named Sun Belt Player of the Year as a senior. She played professionally in Brazil after graduation and won 5 championships in 5 years before returning to America to continue her career. During her 7-year career in the WNBA she averaged 12.5 PPG, made the All-Star Game in 2002, and became known as the best 6’ and under rebounder in the world.

What was the transition like from active basketball player to retired basketball player? It was 1 of the most difficult transitions that I have ever had to make. I loved to play basketball every single day and was successful at it, so it was hard to figure out what to do on the other side. I had skills such as marketing, video editing, and coaching, but the transition might have taken even longer if I did not get the chance to go back to my alma mater to coach.

Why did you decide to join the National Basketball Retired Players Association? I wanted to expand the list of skills I brought to the table and continue to be part of the game of basketball.

Being a part of the NBRPA with other basketball legends, how beneficial is the organization to players who are embarking on life after basketball? It is awesome. I have only been a member for 1 year but already had a chance to reconnect with WNBA players and be around people like Nate Archibald/Johnny Newman to find out what their success was all about. I do some work with NBA Cares and they help by sending t-shirts to kids who participate in camps/clinics, which is a very nice gesture. I want to get into assistant coaching in the future and would love to get into basketball on the men’s side.

In what ways has your involvement in the NBRPA allowed you to serve as an advocate to other retired players? When I post things on social media other players start to recognize that the NBRPA is really doing something. Some events led by other organizations in the past did not stick around for very long, but I am glad I became a member and can pass along the information to other players via word of mouth. It is great that the NBRPA will be at the Women’s Final 4 because all of the current coaches/assistants that will be there, and that way people can find out about what we do.

You are hosting a youth clinic on Saturday, March 19th, as part of the Jersey City celebration of Women’s History Month: after so much success on the court, how have you been able to succeed with such clinics off the court? We are used to seeing retired players at men’s camps but all the camps I run are co-ed. It makes sense for the NBRPA to do more things with the WNBA because retired players need someone to lean on after their career is finished and they still want to stay in the loop.

As a freshman at Old Dominion you scored 9 PTS in a 5-PT win over Georgia in the 1985 NCAA tourney title game: what did it mean to you to win a title, and what do you remember about meeting President and Mrs. Reagan at the White House? It was a phenomenal moment: when I talk about it I feel like I am right back on the court in Austin. We started the season #1 in the nation and probably should have gone undefeated, but our heads got a little big and we lost a few games. Georgia had some great players like Teresa Edwards/Katrina McClain so a lot of people doubted us. Congressman Bill Whitehurst was already affiliated with our team so we took a bus to DC to visit the White House. I had no idea how tall President Reagan he was about 6’5”! God bless Nancy Reagan who just passed. They asked us in advance about our favorite foods/drinks and when we arrived they had everything we listed, they rolled out the red carpet for us.

You won a bronze medal as captain of team USA in the 1993 World University Games: did you think your 3-PT shot at the buzzer in the semifinal against China was going in, and where does that 2-PT loss rank among the most devastating of your career? It was the weirdest journey for me. Coach Vandeveer told me that I didn't make the final cut, which was the most devastating moment of my life. Not even 24 hours after flying out of in Colorado Springs head coach Joan Bonvicini called me and said to get back on a plane because my services were needed. I was still kind of pissed but she convinced me to head back to practice. The game against China was a battle with a score that went back and forth all night. I thought that my shot was going to stay down but it just popped right back out. It has to rank among the 3 most devastating games of my career.

After winning 5 titles in 5 years playing pro basketball in Brazil, you took a pay cut to join the ABL’s Richmond Rage: why did you make the switch, and how did you enjoy being teammates with 6-time Olympic track and field medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee? I heard from a Stanford friend that everyone was going to try out for this new league called the ABL, so I filled out a form, forgot about it, and then had a phenomenal year in Brazil. I tried out a year later at age 29 as I was really coming into my game, so it was a nice tryout. It was a chance to play at home and be teammates with Dawn Staley, which was pretty great. We were doing a drill where Dawn would hurl a long pass to me for a layup. Jackie came out there and ran the length of the court to catch 1 of the passes in mid-air: we all just stood around looking stunned because we had just witnessed the fastest woman that any of us had ever seen.

In 2002 you were a reserve for the West in the WNBA All-Star Game: what are your memories of the game, and was that the greatest team you have ever been a part of (Tamecka Dixon/Katie Smith/Lauren Jackson joined you on as SUBS on the West!)? It is hands-down the greatest team that I have ever been a part of. Lauren was just on fire at that time and could not be stopped. She was 6’4” but could shoot threes and bring the ball up the court: she was like Scottie Pippen. You could take our bench and we could hold our own against the starters because we had so much talent. It was great to play for Coach Michael Cooper: he was a great player who I watched on TV when I was younger getting steal after steal and also a great coach.

Many people have called you the best 6’ and under rebounder in the world: what is your secret for being a great rebounder? It is just desire: offense was my forte but I always wanted the ball and would dive on the floor if necessary. As a college freshman I played with some great rebounders and they made a great impression on me. They would tell me to get out of the paint because they thought I was too small, but once I got overseas I took my former teammate Tracy Claxton’s jersey # 15 so that it would remind me to always hit the boards. Coach Stanley was a stickler for rebounding and my other coaches also wanted me to get into the mix. Coach Wendy Larry would make whoever had the least rebounds during our 4-on-4 drills run, so that also served as my motivation. I think that will be my legacy: that I rebounded with the best of them.