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First Person

Drew Gooden, Cavaliers Forward

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Drew Gooden, Cavaliers Forward.
Drew Gooden, Cavaliers Forward.
Michael J. LeBrecht II/1Deuce3 Photography
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As told to Chris Mannix

On playing the piano

I learned from my father, Andrew. He was in this band called Diamond Cut, a jazz and R&B group. I never got as good as him, but I made sure I was good enough to get the girls. One of my favorite songs to play is On Bended Knee by Boyz II Men -- man, the girls really like that. I'm trying to learn the electric guitar now, but it's tough.

On being one of the NBA's leading offensive rebounders

You have to want the ball. You have to have the passion to make that second effort. Some players, when a defender boxes them out, they just stick on a guy's back; a guy like me takes the contact, then fights it off to get to the ball. It's a matter of wanting it more than the other guy.

On Finnish saunas

I'm half Finnish [his mother, Ulla, is from there], and the sauna originated in Finland. You hop in the sauna and you're in there naked, and they have these leaves tied to a branch, and you hit yourself with them to open up your pores. I know it sounds weird. You're supposed to stay in the sauna for [five] minutes, but I can only stay there for 30 seconds before I have to get my ass out of there. It's too hot, I can't breathe! Then you hop into a lake, and the lake is freezing. Even in the summer, it's like 60 degrees. Then you hop back in the sauna. [For my mom's sake] I have to say I like it, but maybe next time we go to Finland, I can just stay on the dock and go fishing or something.

On having parents from two different worlds

My mother is from a rural town, and they met when my dad was in Finland playing professional basketball. It was tough because my parents split when I was a kid. I grew up in the inner city [in Oakland and Richmond, Calif.] with my father, and because my mom was white my hair was different and my skin was lighter. Kids would get on me with the name-calling. But you deal with it; it got me in a lot of fights defending myself, but it made me a stronger person.

On the league's toughest power forwards to guard

The first guy would be Kevin Garnett. You have to play both ends of the floor with him and match his intensity. Who else? Antoine Walker. You can't really tell this year with Miami, but when he was in Boston he was a guy who could push the ball up the floor or pull up in transition for a three. Face-up, ball handling big men are so tough.

On the city of Cleveland

Last year I was down on the city. But it's my second year now, and I'm starting to like it, especially the restaurants. I'm single, so I don't have a wife to cook for me. I think I've been to every restaurant in this city. One thing I don't like is the cold -- I'm freezing my butt off out here!

THE 24-YEAR-OLD GOODEN AVERAGES 10.6 POINTS AND A TEAM-BEST 8.7 REBOUNDS FOR THE 44-29 CAVALIERS

Issue date: April 10, 2006

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