One of the ideas that Liberty Ballers was founded on is that Andre Iguodala is a talented, multifaceted wing player who was under-appreciated by his coaches, fans, and the media during his eight seasons with the 76ers. The #3 rule on this website's community guidelines even states, "Andre Iguodala was fantastic." In winning the NBA Finals, and being elected MVP by the media, Andre Iguodala is finally getting his due recognition.
It's true: Iguodala was miscast as a top scoring option during the majority of his time in Philadelphia, having the unfortunate distinction of being the "next man up", the presumed torchbearer for the franchise after Allen Iverson was traded to Denver in December, 2006. Just 24-years-old during that season, his first with a leading role, Iguodala averaged 19.9 points per game, 5.4 rebounds, and 4.8 assists. He was supposed to be the next A.I., the next crossover-pulling, press-ranting star in the city.
He just wasn't that type of star. In a city that likes to believe it worships scrappy athletes who work hard and epitomize its blue-collar ethos, it's peculiar that his style of play didn't click with Philadelphians. He was a defense-first wing, arguably the league's best in his prime, a hard-worker and smart-thinker with a propensity for acrobatic slams and the ability to throw up triple-doubles due to his passing instincts from the point forward spot.
Debates ran on endlessly about Iguodala's value as a player during his tenure in Philadelphia.
How can I guy with a contract worth $80 million average less than 20 points per game?
If he can't create in a half-court offense, how is he a star?
He's a bad interview. He's arrogant.
Hoisting 25 shots every night and lamenting the merits of practice in pressers aren't in his DNA as a player. Doing the little things, ever-so-valuable from a person who's not a dominant scorer, was his specialty. Those little aspects of the game he did so well in his Sixers career were fully on display over the last two weeks with the Warriors, as Iguodala battled defensively as well as humanly possibly for six games against the world's best player in LeBron James, while also knocking down big shots in catch-and-shoot opportunities.
After spending the entire season and the Western Conference playoffs as a bench player, Steve Kerr's insertion of Iguodala into a post-D'Antonian, super small-ball starting lineup that featured Draymond Green at center flipped the series in the Dubs' favor as effectively as the Battle of Gettysburg did for the blue-coated Union Army.
A team of star-studded shooters was the ideal fit for Iguodala: they could grab the spotlight and rack up the field goal attempts, while he squared up with opposing ball-handlers and distributed for the Splash Brothers and Co.
Not a true scoring threat even according to his staunchest defenders, Iguodala ironically tallied 25 points, tied for a team high with Stephen Curry, in the closeout game of the Finals in a performance that clinched the series' MVP award for him. For a brief moment, he was the player his doubters always wanted him to be and doubled as the guy his fans always loved.
Iguodala didn't need the show he put on display in the Finals to validate his approach and his claim as an important player in this league. His years of locking all windows and doors in the Eastern Conference and his selection to both the All-Star Game and the Olympic squad in 2012 solidified that. Adding "NBA Champion" and 'Finals MVP" to his resume sure does help vindicate his journey though.