ORLANDO, Fla. — Andre Iguodala is back in the playoffs, for the 13th time in his 16 years in the NBA. Therefore, it’s almost a regular trip for him, even if this one brings a twist: It’s August, and he’s with a team he’s just getting to know.
Iguodala didn’t join the Heat until February, and before the season was halted, he played only 21 games. Even then, his role and minutes were sporadic because of the transition; Iguodala didn’t have the benefit of training camp and hadn’t played all season while sitting out, by mutual agreement with the Grizzlies, until Memphis found a team for him.
He’s still in supreme shape at age 36, but what’s more noticeable are the flecks of gray in the hair on the veteran swingman. There’s plenty of wisdom within Iguodala, a major reason why Miami not only traded for him — surrendering Justise Winslow in the process — but extended his contract as well.
Miami sees itself as a contender, with a mix of veterans and rapidly-developing young talent, both now and the near future. Iguodala was added to bring playoff experience; just five years ago he was Finals MVP and has consistently elevated his play in the postseason.
“I feel great,” he said. “This is a good fit for me, and I understand my role, and there’s plenty of reasons to like where this team and this franchise is going.”
That wisdom is why he makes for a good interview. There’s plenty of perspective here. Iguodala touched on the Heat, his long-time admiration for team president Pat Riley, why Jimmy Butler seems so angry, why he chose his social justice slogan and also what the Warriors should do with the No. 2 overall pick.
(Editor’s Note: The following 1-on-1 conversation has been condensed and edited).
What’s your conversations been like with coach Erik Spoelstra?
We had discussions about the young guys. Had a long discussion about Bam (Adebayo) and how excited we were about him and his progression, the high expectations and how Bam can exceed those expectations. Also we spoke about what he expects from me. Anytime I see a void, I try to come in and fill it. I’ve been able to really get a good feel for different lineups, different groups. For me it’s about identifying what value I bring to the table, how can I mesh with that group. That’s what I’ve done throughout my career. There’s more comfortability with the guys now.
After being a big part of a Warriors dynasty, what’s the culture like in Miami?
This is a place where players can develop, learning how to be a professional. They’ve set the bar for how to get a young guy to understand the game and how to improve, watch the film, work on your game, turn weaknesses into strength. Guys are willing to take criticism and take advice and right away start putting it in their game. That’s all encouraged here and it’s good to see.
You’re being a mentor to the young players, Bam and also Tyler Herro. What can you tell us about them?
Bam has all the talent in the world. He can be as good as he wants to be. A hard worker, wants to be great, and he will. Tyler has a tighter (dribble) than people think. He’s very confident in his game. Very hard worker, wants to be great. That’s something you can’t teach. Can’t teach someone to have that drive and set high goals and go after them every day. If he has a flaw, he’ll work on that. Like, left-hand passes, that’s something he worked on. It translates to the defensive end too.
What about Duncan Robinson? He’s breaking out here in the bubble.
Dunc has become a household name. He got Twitter talk now (laughs). I’m on Duncan all the time. I tell him look, you’re 6-8 and shoot the ball the way you do. Your shooting ability will open a world of opportunity. He takes advice to heart.
You’ve been a big Pat Riley fan even before joining the Heat. What was it like finally speaking with him?
I read his book five years ago, and so hearing his talk, knowing he has this swag about him, I almost laughed a few times when we first talked. I told him I read his book. He explained his book, the teams he coached, how he tried to make them great. As we got deeper into our conversations, I got to see why so many players were attracted to him. A very smooth talker, has a vision, very cool to be around.
It’s kind of an anger he has, but the anger is funneled in the right direction and that energy is put in the right place. … In the past he took some hits for holding guys accountable, but this is a guy who wants to win.”
— Andre Iguodala on Jimmy Butler
You’ve played alongside great players in your career. What makes Jimmy Butler believe he belongs in that group?
It’s kind of an anger he has, but the anger is funneled in the right direction and that energy is put in the right place. Good players motivate themselves in different ways. For him, it’s the anger he built up inside, done the right way. He holds guys accountable, leads by example, gives up his body. In the past he took some hits for holding guys accountable, but this is a guy who wants to win. Some may take it the wrong way, or take it personally. But what he stands for, his values, are meant to win.
Why did you choose Group Economics for your social justice message?
I’ve spoken with (former Warriors teammate) David West about how can we solve some of the issues we have in the community. Like, now that we had the protests, what’s next? Take Jay-Z. He took a lot of hits with his partnership with the NFL. The perception that most had about him in this case was the wrong perception. You need to look deeper into what he’s trying to do. It all comes down to economics. We need to understand our real estate, the value of our land, the taxes that go into that and how that money goes into our educational system and law enforcement. And we have large spending dollars amongst us. Should we spend it on ourselves? That’s how you build up communities.
So, what should the Warriors do with the No. 2 overall pick, keep it or trade for experienced help?
Great question. They may trade it. They’ve been very strategic and smart with how they acquired me, and Draymond (Green) and Klay (Thompson) and how they’ve been able to maneuver within the cap space to get Kevin Durant, and then how they got the trade exception for me. They got a lot of options. They were really smart to look ahead while we were winning. They’re in prime position to keep doing some good things.
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