Lots of pro athletes live in our community. If you call Ashburn or Crystal City or Ballston home, you’ve probably seen some athletes during your daily life.
But, to my knowledge, not many pro athletes live in Bethesda. And since that’s more my neck of the woods, Drew Gooden’s Bethesda residence has always been fascinating to me.
(Okay, there’s actually some debate about this. The Wizards forward says he lives in Bethesda. Montgomery County purists insist he actually lives in North Bethesda, or possibly even Rockville. He lives just south of the White Flint Metro stop. I’ll let you decide.)
Anyhow, as Michael Lee reported earlier this season, Gooden had been splitting time between Orlando and Montgomery County, where his girlfriend owns a business. While hanging out in the area, he did Bikram Yoga in Rockville, and got up shots at the University of Maryland, and worked out at Verizon Center. And now that the Wizards are a playoff team, his MoCo status is rising.
“It is kind of weird living in Bethesda,” he told me. “It seems like everywhere I go now people are picking up my checks to eat. I went to Woodmont Grill, they picked up my check. It was great. It felt like I was in Lawrence, Kansas, all over again.”
So I wanted to know Gooden’s go-to spots, the parts of Bethesda that feel like home.
“Definitely Bethesda Crab House,” he said. “That’s a big hit in my household. My girl, she goes there about two times a week. Woodmont Grill, of course. Raku, it’s like Asian fusion. And I’m a P.F. Chang’s head, I love P.F. Chang’s, and there’s a P.F. Chang’s right down the street at White Flint Mall. But Bethesda Crab House is definitely our main spot.”
I pointed out that a friend of mine has spotted him at the North Bethesda Whole Foods.
“All the time,” Gooden agreed. “I go there every day. I’m on the way there right now. I’m serious, I go there every day.”
This was of particular interest to me, because I used to work at Whole Foods (Georgetown and P Street) and still consider the store a home away from home. So I wondered whether Gooden gets recognized during his daily shopping trips.
“All the time,” he said. “Because I feel like they were a part of me doing the grind of working out during free agency, when I was living there before I signed with the Wizards. Hey Drew, what are you doing in town, do you live in the area? Then it went from yeah yeah, and knowing the people that work there, to now playing with the Wizards, and they’re like hey good job last night!
“So it’s kind of like I feel like they’re my family, and they helped me — all the workers and employees kind of helped me get to the point where I am now,” he said. “It’s been amazing.”
If the Wizards make the NBA Finals, I’m totally following Gooden around the North Bethesda Whole Foods with a camera. Anyhow, if you’re wondering what he gets, he stocks up on electrolyte waters for his yoga sessions. Guacamole and salsa. Fresh fruit and vegetables. And the hot bar, including barbecue, pulled pork, mashed potatoes, mac ‘n cheese, garlic wings, and beans.
Oh, and cheese.
“Tom is the head guy – see I know everyone by first name,” Gooden told me. “Tom is the head cheese guy over there, and they always give me samples of cheese. I like Gouda, I’m a big fan of aged Gouda — 5-, 7-, 10-year age Gouda. And Brie. Love Bries.”