Sorry, Finland. The immortal Drew Gooden’s dual citizenship application didn’t get cleared in time to play for the Finnish national team at the FIBA Basketball World Cup.
Gooden’s mother is Finnish, and Finland’s 12-mother roster for the tournament doesn’t include the Washington Wizards big man. Damn you, bureaucracy! Per the WaPo:
In a recent phone interview, Gooden explained that he grew up with his father, Andrew, in Oakland, Calif., but made summer-long trips to Finland every two years to spend time with his mother’s family. He roamed his grandparents’ farm — situated about four hours north of the Finnish capital of Helsinki — milking cows, hunting, fishing, and tending to chicken coops.
“Half of my family is still over there and I communicate with them all the time,” said Gooden, whose father met Lear while playing professional basketball in Finland. “So it’s like I have time spent there. It’s not like I’m doing this because I just happen to be half-Finnish. No, I really actually have ties to Finland and the culture.”
“As a kid you always dream of winning the gold medal,” Gooden, 32, said. “You think you’re going to be on the Dream Team or one day it be possible that you can do something like that during your career. It was a point where I got to 26, 27, 28, where that might’ve not been happening, might not have been a possibility for me, that I can compete and represent another part of me, which is Finland. I feel like ‘Why not?’” [...] “If something happens and there’s a bump in the road where this is not possible this year, I’m still going to be going there and supporting the team, supporting the players in Spain and start to build a relationship for the future for years to come,” Gooden said. “Either way you want to see it, I’m still going to get my dual citizenship and I am going to become a Finnish citizen, whether I’m playing on the team or not, eventually.”