Gooden had his third consecutive double-double since moving into the Dallas Mavericks’ starting lineup, scoring 17 points and snatching 11 rebounds before fouling out late in regulation. He also provided a strong interior defensive presence, blocking three shots and harassing Tim Duncan into a tough shooting night.
But Gooden insists that facing the Spurs, whom he played for the final month and a half of last season, provided no extra motivational fuel.
“Not at all,” Gooden said. “From the day I got there to the day I left, I knew it was all business. That’s a great group of guys over there. I enjoyed playing with them and trying to make a playoff run with those guys.
“But this is a business. I had to move on. Now, I switched sides to the team that beat us. Spurs fans don’t like it too much, but it wasn’t my choice.”
Gooden struggled to mesh with the Spurs after signing with them in early March, after the Kings gave him a buyout following a trade from the Bulls. He didn’t play in the final game of the Mavs’ playoff series win over the Spurs, but he has nothing but praise for San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich and the “first-class” organization.
Gooden did have discussions with the Spurs this summer about returning to San Antonio, but the sides never got close to a deal. He moved on to the Mavs, who offered more money and more playing time. Swapping sides of the Interstate 35 rivalry was just business.