Chris Goulding scored his 5000th point in a win over the New Zealand Breakers. (Photo: Melbourne United)

Compelled by a “drive for more success”, Chris Goulding will continue his mission at Melbourne United to win another championship, signing for two years. With Melbourne reaching the semi-finals last year, there’s a buzz around the Hoop City complex to get back to the promised land this season.

Amidst the buzz, the off-season has been turbulent, seeing the losses of All-NBL players in Matthew Dellavedova and Jo-Lual Acuil, whilst also losing Jack White to the Denver Nuggets. Additionally, Melbourne’s pre-season opened shakily as Californian college, St. Mary’s, defeated United, 88-67.

Despite the setbacks, Melbourne has recruited strongly, acquiring international talent in Rayjon Tucker, Jordan Caroline and Xavier Rathan-Mayes. Australian Issac Humphries also joins United, having last played for the Adelaide 36ers.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Goulding remarked that he hoped his extension, and the extension of Shea Ili, recipient of the NBL22 Best Sixth Man, “would bring some leadership to the playing group”.

Melbourne United’s Head Coach, Dean Vickerman, exclaimed his excitement for Chris Goulding to resign, saying “he’s ready to go about again”. Goulding shared Vickerman’s sentiments, discussing the “high level of mutual respect” they share.

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The legacy of Chris Goulding

Goulding has been the steady head at the wheel for the majority of the time since Melbourne United rebranded from the Tigers. With his leadership, Melbourne has seen great success.

Yet his history in Melbourne began at the Tigers. He joined the Melbourne club ahead of the 2012/13 season, and went on to play in the last ever NBL All-Star game, where he took All-Star game MVP honours.

Goulding also reached his career high in a Tigers uniform, scoring 50 points on March 9, 2014. He became the first player to score 50 in the NBL’s 40 minute game era.

He was awarded with All-NBL first team honours that year, and reached the All-NBL first team again in 2016.

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Goulding went on to win championships for Melbourne in 2017/18 and 2020/21, where he captained both teams to success. In addition to the championships, Goulding claimed Finals MVP honours in 2017/18.

In 2021/22, he reached another NBL milstone, becoming the second active player to reach 5000 career points. Goulding was rewarded with All-NBL second team honours, after also being named in the team the season prior.

Internationally, Goulding was apart of the squad that won bronze at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Goulding hit two three-pointers in every finals match.

Goulding was also apart of the squad that beat USA for the first time ever, in front of 52,079 fans at Docklands Stadium.

A question of expansion:

Melbourne United, despite finishing the regular season in first place, was undone by the Tasmania JackJumpers in finals.

Despite it being just their first year in the NBL, a fourth place finish grew into a very positive finals campaign. Tasmania ultimately bowed out in the finals to the champions, the Sydney Kings.

Amidst their success, talk has been had over which new teams could be given a license. Gold Coast has already announced they will make a pitch, despite having teams in the league twice.

On the question of whether they’d support more new licenses, both Goulding and Vickerman were in support of the idea.

Goulding emanated a positive reaction to the idea, exclaiming “he’s all for it”. Vickerman detailed how “the loudest game I’ve played in” was the semi-final match in Tasmania, an insight into how supportive these new teams are.

Chris Goulding and Melbourne United begin their season on October 2, against the New Zealand Breakers at John Cain Arena.

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