The other night, the Golden State Warriors blew out the proud and slightly PO’d San Antonio Spurs by 36 points at home. That was not a big surprise given that Kawhi Leonard sat out for the Spurs with an ankle injury incurred on a questionably dirty play in Game 1, a play that likely eliminated the Spurs' shot at upsetting the Warriors.
No, the surprise was that the winning margin was obtained with the Warriors' Swiss army knife, Andre Iguodala, sitting it out as well. Now 33, Iggy is finally showing the signs of wear, tear and just plain old age that many of his peers have long since succumbed to.
To put it in perspective: Luke Walton, once his assistant coach at Golden State and now the Lakers' head coach, was one year ahead of him when both played for the University of Arizona.
This is Iguodala’s 13th season in the NBA, fourth with the Warriors. His versatility, his experience and, above all, his unselfishness have served this team in so many different ways that it is hard to list them in order of importance.
Calling him a glue guy does not do it justice.
Super Glue guy? Now we’re getting close.
If I sound like a fan … well, I am. If you were around for any or all of the eight seasons he wore a Sixers uniform, you probably are, too. Back then, with a team that was repeatedly re-imaging itself like Silly Putty (product placement, anyone?), Iguodala was cast into a role that he initially welcomed but was unsuited for: franchise messiah.
When Allen Iverson finally was shipped from the sinking Sixers to Denver in 2006, they became Iggy’s team. Certainly the initials didn’t help him establish his own mark, but the premise was flawed anyway. He preferred, even back then, to play the type of game that ultimately made him invaluable with other teams, including the Olympic squad in London: Make others better through your play. Lock down someone on defense. Keep them honest if they ignore you. And follow shots.
It’s a joy to watch him on this team. It’s a joy to watch him defend, and on those nights when he scores in the high teens and 20s, it’s a joy to be surprised by it, so natural and unforced were the points. In short, if you’re one of those guys who prattle on endlessly about playing the game the right way – guilty – rooting for Iguodala is like rooting for your own basketball principles.
It’s also about rooting for a player who found the right place and the right team at the right time of his career. Iguodala missed five regular-season games this season despite those balky knees and a troublesome hip. His training regime is so extensive, with cryotherapy and such, that he told Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle recently, ''I do so many different things, I don’t know which ones work.’’
An MRI on the left knee that kept him out of Game 2 showed no damage. And with a few extra days of rest before this series resumes Saturday night in San Antonio, Iguodala’s sabbatical might be short. If you’re like me, you sure hope so. Because until The Process finds its footing the way Iguodala has, living vicariously through him is about as close to a championship as we’re going to get.