NBA

Iguodala’s impact as NBA cachet, Warriors icon not lost on Kerr – NBC Sports Bay Area


SAN FRANCISCO – Andre Iguodala’s decision to align with the Warriors 10 summers ago gave them more than a highly skilled wing with All-Star credentials. They’ve had those in the past.

What they never had was an NBA cachet. That was the greatest gift Iguodala, who on Friday morning announced his retirement, gave to the Warriors and the Bay Area.

Iguodala’s signing in the summer of 2013 hung a neon marquee sign above a franchise that had spent most of its previous 54 years as one of the NBA’s least desirable outposts, usually run by a backwater bunch with shallow pockets and an aversion to the process required to achieve and sustain success. The bar was set at making the playoffs, and the team cleared it only three times in the 19 seasons before Iguodala put pen to paper.

After decades existing among the teams routinely ignored by top-tier and even second-tier free agents, with good reason, here comes a man who chooses Golden State – and for a smaller contract than was available elsewhere.
That acquisition sent a signal throughout the league. New ownership, led by Joe Lacob and Peter Guber, was tenacious about taking every road to elite status.

Iguodala’s reputation as a critical thinker preceded his arrival in the Bay Area and, more to the point, carried weight among NBA players. If he was willing to join the Warriors, they must be onto something.

They were. Iguodala spent eight seasons with the Warriors, made six trips to the NBA Finals and came away with four championship rings and the 2015 Finals MVP award.

“He’s one of the main reasons we’ve got those four banners hanging up,” coach Steve Kerr said Friday afternoon. “He was a foundational piece of what has been one of the great runs in NBA history.”

Several factors led Iguodala to the Warriors. One, he liked the roster under then-coach Mark Jackson. Two, he loved everything Stephen Curry represented and had the potential to become. Three, loved the business opportunities offered by the Bay Area, a relatively progressive pocket of the country.

Iguodala, in short, saw the future.

It only got better when Kerr replaced Jackson. They already were familiar with each other; both had played, though 15 years apart, at the University of Arizona. Their connection and comfort were of immense help to Kerr in 2014-15, his first season as a head coach at any level.

“In many ways, Andre set the tone for the whole (dynastic run) by agreeing to come off the bench in 2014-15,” Kerr said. “By really sacrificing and making the move that unlocked the team that allowed Harrison (Barnes) to thrive, that strengthened our bench, but also set a tone for unselfishness and a team-first mentality. That was ultimately rewarded with a title and Finals MVP for Andre, ironically when we put him back in the starting lineup.”

The 2014-15 Warriors ran through the NBA like flame through wax. The style of play. The joy. The Steph. The championship. The Warriors planted their flag and joined the traditional elite. They no longer had to wait behind the league’s velvet rope.

Without Iguodala and all that came with him, the Warriors probably wouldn’t get free agent Shaun Livingston and almost certainly can’t attract a free agent the magnitude of Kevin Durant. Then came David West and DeMarcus Cousins, signing minimum contracts.

Here now comes Chris Paul, acquired in trade but delighted to be a part of all things Golden State.

And who but Paul would be better to fill Iguodala’s shoes this season? CP3 is the team’s new sage, moving into the role Iguodala filled every season he was on the roster.

Not until last season, when Andre appeared in only eight games, was there a clear decline. For all his work behind the scenes and bringing stature to the franchise, he made an impact on the court.

“You look at the type of player he was, just incredibly smart, amazing feel at both ends, was always a step ahead of everybody else on the floor,” Kerr said. “He was an elite defender and the perfect complement to the group we had because he was able to expose the defense and get shots for Steph and Klay (Thompson) or cover up on the other end defensively when we made mistakes.

“Andre was just special.”

The franchise is in a great place, and Iguodala is high on the list of reasons why. He’ll get a statue at Chase Center, and it will be richly deserved.

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Rohit Palit

Periodista deportivo y graduado en Ciencias de la Comunicación de Madrid. Cinco años de experiencia cubriendo fútbol tanto a nivel internacional como local. Más de tres años escribiendo sobre la NFL. Escritor en marcahora.xyz desde 2023.

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