Lost among the excitement and urine spritzers in the Andrew Bynum trade is a serious appreciation for what the Sixers are losing in Andre Iguodala. Occasionally written off as a declining player in the way, Andre has been, unquestionably, the best player to suit up for the Sixers in the last 20 years outside of Allen Iverson.
I am here to celebrate the Sixers career of Andre Iguodala, not mourn it.
Drafted with a surplus of athleticism and raw ability, Iguodala became AI's little bro right off the bat, starting 232 consecutive games to start his NBA career. When Allen left, Iguodala became the de facto face of the franchise, and was handsomely rewarded as such in Ed Stefanski's first major move as GM. The contract would ultimately become his undoing among the good graces of most Sixers fans, as the masses don't generally appreciate defense, rebounding, and ball movement at the expense of a clunky high-arcing jumper and missed foul shots.
The Andre Iguodala Sixers era was met with vitriol and ambivalence as the team pummeled itself into mediocrity and floundered as the forgotten team among the Philly four. Iguodala was the subject of trade rumors for years (literally, years) and always seemed to hang on with the team despite coaching carousels, ownership changes, and a career of being undervalued. Only when he finally gained recognition as an All-Star and U.S. Olympian (after averaging his fewest points per game since his 2nd year in the league) did a trade finally, mercifully come through.
It is simply not Andre's fault that the Sixers weren't good enough post-AI. He was fantastic at being Andre. But for a few of those years, they were asking him to be something he's not. And he shouldn't be blamed for being thrust into a round hole. But he was, and there's a loud majority of fans who won't miss him at all.
You and I aren't likely part of that majority.
Thus, it is with a tremendous good fortune that the last image I have of Iguodala as a Sixer is him sinking two inconceivable foul shots in crunch time to advance past the Chicago Bulls in last year's playoffs. I will forever include those free throws and his son in any discussion about his legacy here. It's always good to go out on a high note, and it's painfully fitting that the highest note for Iguodala in Philly is sliding past a crippled Bulls team in the first round.
The eight years Iguodala spent in Philadelphia were mostly a waste of talent and time. And while it is unlikely that his number will ever hang in the rafters, the hole that he leaves will be as big as those jerseys that have left before him. He is a truly great basketball player and I consider myself extremely fortunate to have watched him play about 600 games. Losing him is certainly bittersweet, but ultimately the right decision for both parties to turn the page.
I cannot wait to watch him succeed in Denver.
Thanks for the eight years, Dre. I'm sorry we couldn't do better by you.