Gail Goodrich Talks Wooden and Lakers
Gail Goodrich may not have been the name on the tip of every young NBA’s fan tongue during his playing days, but that didn’t stop him from being named an All-Star five times, being inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame or from legendary UCLA coach John Wooden calling him the greatest all-around player he ever coached. Goodrich joined the BFT on Tuesday to talk about his career and his legacy.
Despite his very successful playing career at UCLA, which included two national titles and a College Player of the Year award, growing up Goodrich never really imagined himself becoming a Bruin. Raised in a pro-USC household, Goodrich said that from a young age he always aspired to playing for the Trojans. Goodrich went on to say that not only did his parents have season tickets to USC football games, but he admitted to sleeping with his father’s USC letterman blanket on his bed. Still, with a year to go in his high school basketball career, the Trojans weren’t the southern California team that came offering Goodrich a basketball scholarship.
“USC was never convinced early on that I could play Division I basketball,” said Goodrich. “Coach Wooden saw something in me, and offered me a scholarship after my junior year.”
When asked about the high praise he received from Coach Wooden, Goodrich acknowledged that it was humbling before stating that he thought his college coach made the claim before he had the likes of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Walton at UCLA.
“Those two [Jabbar and Walton] were really unbelievable players,” said Goodrich.
Goodrich had the opportunity to play with some good players himself, as he was a member of the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers team that won 33 straight games, a record that still stands today as the longest winning streak in the history of the NBA. Goodrich played alongside fellow Hall of Famers Wilt Chamberlain and Jerry West, and led the team in scoring en route to the franchise’s first NBA title since relocating to Los Angeles.
When asked about how a team featuring multiple Hall of Famers was able to cohesively work together on the floor while the current Lakers squad is struggling with its collection of superstar talent, Goodrich highlighted the great respect he and his teammates had for one another as well as each player understanding the role he was to play.
“I’ve always said that whatever team you’re on, you have to look at what you bring to the table,” said Goodrich. “You have to look at that, and then try to fit that in as a role on that particular team.”
To listen to the entire interview, click below: