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Drew Gooden Make-A-Wish Charity Game Breaks Monotony Of The NBA Lockout For A Good Cause

By now you've probably gotten the gist of last night's Drew Gooden Make-A-Wish Charity Game at the Cow Palace last night - as CSN Bay Area's Matt Steinmetz wrote, calling it a basketball game was indeed a stretch.

So if you're wondering about how Minnesota Timberwolves sensation Ricky Rubio played, Steimetz has a brief synopsis of pretty much all that could gleaned from this non-game game. But aside from reinforcing the fact that the David Kahn's team should be somewhere near the top of your list of league pass teams it's not like you really learned much about his pro potential.

"Today it's all about having a good time," said Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah who played with Rubio on the Red Team, which lost the game 117-92. "You can't say much about him in a game like this: the guy is gonna be a hell of a player, he's got a good heart, and he's a good dude for coming out here."

But even if the game itself was an unsatisfying substitute for the Golden State Warriors game against the Boston Celtics that would have occurred at TD Garden last night basketball-wise, the cause that brought these players together was at least worth supporting.

Rather than just being Rubio's U.S. debut, the point of the game was to raise money to support the Make-A-Wish Foundation in sending youth to the 2012 London Olympics, which Noah will be playing in as a member of the French National Team. A check for $10,000 was presented to the Make-A-Wish Foundation at halftime

"I didn't know too much until Drew told us about it," said Noah. "The kids they're going to have a chance to go to the Olympics and do something special.I got a chance to talk to those kids a little, they came into the locker room, spent a little time with them, and they're really excited about it."

And the cause - perhaps moreso than the opportunity to play in a Cow Palace that probably saw its best NBA basketball moments while serving as the venue for the 1975 Finals - is what drew the players out, even on extremely short notice.

"About two weeks ago," said event organizer and Bay Area native Drew Gooden, who most recently played for the Milwaukee Bucks. "I threw it together. We got the commits. We got it done."

Most of the players there didn't actually hear about the game until a couple of days ago, including Warriors wing Dorell Wright and were quickly swayed by the opportunity to contribute to a good cause. 

"I found out once they had the idea a few days ago and it's cool because me and Drew go way back, you know," said Wright after the game. "Eight years ago, when I came into the league, we had the same agent so we had an opportunity to build a relationship then. So once he asked me to play in this game it was a no-brainer to play in this game."

Part of the reason for the short notice was that playing the game was contingent upon what happened in NBA lockout negotiations - obviously, if the pre-decertified NBA Players Association had come to a deal with NBA owners, players would be preparing to play some sort of shortened NBA season. But according to Noah, once talks broke off, things moved forward with planning the game as soon as possible.

"This game was made in like five days," said Noah. "It was made at the last second. We didn't know if we were going to sign a deal or not."

Of course - setting all the cause stuff aside - the bottom line is that these are professional basketball players - they want to play basketball and this was the latest opportunity to do so. Oklahoma City Thunder guard James Harden played as though he would've found a playground to play pick-up at even after this game. However, while the other players were casually discussing the game in good spirits, it was clear that this is a cause that Gooden is truly passionate about.

"Of course we're gonna do this, we're going to continue to do this," said Gooden, responding as though it had never occurred to him that this might be a one time deal. "This is something that I want to put on for years to come as long as they continue to allow me to do it."

After going to one or two of these charity games - maybe even after one half of play - you only miss the league more, not less. But it's still refreshing to see players locked in a battle of "millionaires vs. billionaires" take the time to put on an event like this. Who knows how good Rubio - or 2011 Warriors draft pick Jeremy Tyler, who played opposite Wright on the Red Team - will be, but the cause was worthwhile for those that came out to watch the players dunk on each other a few times.

"You know at the end of the day, I realize it's a charity game, guys aren't going too hard, but there's a lot of positive that comes out of it and that's cool," Noah said.

Starting lineups:

Red Team White Team

Ricky Rubio

Eric Gordon
DeMar DeRozan Dorell Wright
Shawn Marion Anderson Varejao
Joakim Noah Al Harringon
Drew Gooden Leon Powe


For more on the rosters and the game, visit the storystream at SB Nation Bay Area.

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