Drew Gooden


After being selected fourth overall by the Memphis Grizzlies in 2002, Drew Gooden spent a whopping 14 years in the NBA, playing for teams all across the country.

During the unforgettable 2011 lockout, Gooden witnessed the unfortunate financial crises that fellow players found themselves in. This harsh reality made it clear to him that that was not what he wanted for his own future. The lockout ultimately provided him with an early glimpse of retirement, and the motivation to begin considering what his next step would be after basketball. The break in the basketball season also gave him a leg up, as he was able to use his free time to begin studying and preparing for what was ahead.

Gooden took time to asses a number of potential opportunities, and finally concluded that franchising would be most suitable for his next move. As an NBA vet, though, he was all too aware of the many failed restaurant businesses and franchises owned by other professional athletes. He was committed to not becoming another one of these bad business stories.

The power forward conducted extensive research for months on end on a number of companies that he felt would be good fits for his next move. What he found was that the popularity of chicken wings has sharply risen in recent years. His own affi nity for the food and Wingstop itself aided his decision to make Wingstop his primary investment. He began the outreach process to the company just like any other Average Joe would; nothing was immediately handed to him, and he had to make his case as to why he would be a good fi t for the franchise. His hard work ultimately paid off , and in 2012, Gooden signed an agreement to open four Wingstop franchises in Orlando, FL, his off season home.

During the 2019 NBA Summer Conference, Drew Gooden partnered with Wintrust to speak on the Franchising Forum. He shared his personal experience of franchising Wingstop restaurants, and provided notable advice to former players in the audience who are considering a similar path.

Gooden noted that the process is a long one, and that itโ€™s easy to be discouraged. After all, it took two and a half years of work before his first
franchise ever opened its doors. He spoke to the need for self-awareness and, just like on the court, the importance of building a strong team. He
understands that many athletes have the habit of taking on responsibilities that should be delegated to other, but insisted that all great owners
understand their own weaknesses and surround themselves with people who can effectively fill those gaps. He compares this to the idea of owning
your own basketball team. If youโ€™re the owner, youโ€™re not also the general manager or the coach or on the bench as a player. For athletes like Gooden
who are still in their playing careers (Gooden is currently playing in the BIG3), this advice is invaluable as a strong team must lead the day-to-day
operations while owners are away.

The NBRPA is proud to have Wintrust as a dedicated partner, and encourages its members to utilize their resources for all of their commercial
banking needs.