“I’ve been so stressed the last three, four weeks,” Iguodala said. “I told my wife right after the game, like: ‘I’m so sorry. It’s just been so stressful.’”
If nothing else, Iguodala has a unique ability to channel that stress for the greater good.
In Game 5, Kerr shortened his rotation. Ian Clark and JaVale McGee, who had been steady reserves throughout the postseason, did not shed their warm-ups. Instead, Kerr broke the emergency glass and summoned Iguodala to supply the most minutes he had in a game since December. In so many ways, Iguodala held it all together.
“You have to embrace it,” he said. “It’s really just sacrificing to make sure everybody else is eating. But then you want to look for yourself sometimes. Like, you want to show people what you can do.”
Iguodala is as much a symbol of the Warriors’ willingness to sacrifice as anyone on the team. At the start of the 2014-15 season, which was Kerr’s first as the Warriors’ coach, Kerr persuaded Iguodala, a former All-Star, to give up his role as a starter and come off the bench. Iguodala agreed to do it, and the Warriors went on to defeat the Cavaliers in the finals that season.
Not only that, Iguodala was named the 2015 finals’ most valuable player, thanks in large part to his defense on James.
With another player, especially one of Iguodala’s caliber, Kerr’s decision could have caused problems — or at least some drama. Some players do not want to be known as reserves. But Iguodala was willing to do it if he thought it would help the team. The experiment worked, of course. Iguodala has thrived as an anchor on the Warriors’ second unit ever since.
When Kevin Durant joined the Warriors this season, he came to regard Iguodala as a tangible example of their team-first approach. Iguodala also made sure to vocalize that message at times. Given the collection of talent on Golden State, there were games when some All-Stars did not get as many shots as other All-Stars.
“But nobody cared as long as we won,” said Durant, who spotted Iguodala at the back of the room during his news conference late Monday night. “Andre Iguodala, who is right there — he continued to preach that every single day: It’s all about the group. If your intentions are good, then that means, as a team, that we’re moving in the right direction.”
The twist is that Iguodala tweaked his own advice for Durant as the playoffs moved forward.
“Andre told me all the time: ‘It’s your time. Go take it. It’s about you,’” Durant said. “But I’m like: ‘No, it’s about us. It’s about us. But I’m still going to be me.’”
On Monday, Durant scored 39 points to cap his dominant postseason run. He was named the finals’ M.V.P.
Iguodala had one last assist in the game’s final minute. With the Warriors up by 14, Durant paused at one end of the court to collect himself. The moment was weighing on him. Iguodala reminded him to keep playing, to push through the emotion for at least a few more seconds.
“Bro,” Durant recalled responding to Iguodala, “we’re about to win the title.”
The experience, of course, was new to Durant. Iguodala had been through it all before: the anxiety and the expectation, and then the relief mixed with joy.
“This is history,” Iguodala said. “We’re going down as one of the best teams ever, and that’s a special thing you cannot take away from us.”
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