The Warriors don’t win the franchise’s first NBA championship in 40 years without the team’s unflappable trio of stars in Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. Between the red-hot shooting of the Splash Brothers and Green’s lockdown defense, the Warriors’ dynasty doesn’t come close to happening.
But Andre Iguodala’s place in Warriors lore can’t be forgotten, either. Iguodala joined the Warriors in July 2013 as part of a three-team sign-and-trade with the Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz. The swingman — who joined the Warriors already having been an NBA All-Star and Olympic gold medalist — was a starter in his first season with Golden State under coach Mark Jackson, with 2012 top-10 pick Harrison Barnes relegated to bench duty.
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But after a first-round exit in the 2014 playoffs, Jackson was let go and Steve Kerr was hired as a first-time head coach. Immediately, Kerr wanted to make a major change to the lineup, swapping Barnes and Iguodala to maximize their collective production.
“This is the part of Andre that’s so impressive,” Warriors general manager Bob Myers told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on “The Woj Pod.” “He says to Steve ‘All right, if that’s what you think is best for the team.’ Not only does he say that, he doesn’t then call a reporter off the record and say, ‘This is B.S., this guy has never coached a game in his life and he’s telling me to come off the bench? And I’m an Olympic champion and I’m an All-Star?’ And then goes to practice and mopes, he doesn’t do any of that. He authentically says and believes this is best for the team.
“For people to really understand that, I say picture you were the VP in your franchise or organization, you were deserving of the role you had, you had the corner office, and they said, ‘Hey John, look you deserve this office, you deserve this title, but we’re gonna knock you down to kind of an assistant or director, and by the way, it’ll probably be on SportsCenter tonight and just have a good attitude, all right, see you later.’
“In any event, Andre comes off the bench and it’s harder and people interview him after the game and they say, ‘Andre how does it feel to come off the bench?’ And he says, ‘I think this is what’s best for the team.’ And then the reporter turns off his microphone and says, ‘Really, this kinda sucks right, you don’t want to do this?’ And Andre says, ‘No, I will do this.’ “
Iguodala accepted his role without complaint and didn’t do anything to divide the Warriors’ locker room. Not only did Iguodala cede his starting spot to the 22-year-old Barnes, he became the de facto veteran leader for the youthful roster, becoming especially tight with the eventual two-time NBA MVP Curry.
Golden State made a run through the postseason with Barnes in the starting five, but during the 2015 NBA Finals, Kerr elected to once again switch up the lineup.
“We’re down 2-1 in Cleveland to the Cavs,” Myers continued. “Steve says, ‘Hey, I think I’m gonna start Iguodala.’ And I said, ‘Well, what do you think you’re gonna get out of Harrison? And he said, ‘No, I’m gonna start Iguodala for Bogut, we’re gonna go small.’ So Andre doesn’t start all year, doesn’t say a word, we’re in the Finals and he says, ‘Andre, you’re gonna start now.’ And what does Andre do? He goes out and becomes MVP of the Finals.
“I don’t think any of it happens without that specific thing. If Andre doesn’t do that and he’s frustrated all year, in this day and age, maybe he says, ‘I want out of here,’ maybe Harrison says, ‘I want out of here.’ It’s holding it together, but it requires everyone.”
Iguodala’s impact on the Warriors’ dynasty can’t be understated. The organization showed an emotional tribute video in his first time facing the Warriors with the Miami Heat back in February, and owner Joe Lacob even said in a statement following his trade to the Memphis Grizzlies last summer that he looks forward to Iguodala’s No. 9 “hanging in the rafters at Chase Center.”
Warriors’ Bob Myers praises Andre Iguodala’s impact on 2015 title run originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area