OAKLAND — Andre Iguodala wants nothing to do with this conversation, not if it has to do with giving him any credit at all. For a single thing.
Even if assistant coach Mike Brown applauds Iguodala for all of his thoughtful conversations and serving as a sounding board when Brown guided the champion Warriors through much of the postseason as Steve Kerr was ailing.
“That’s why he got fired in Cleveland and LA, ‘cuz no one can trust him,” Iguodala said so matter-of-factly of Brown. “I didn’t ever say nothing to him, no. We never had any conversations.”
That’s the impossible-to-read Iggy for you. Yet so reliable at the same time.
Then, without prompting while sitting at his locker after a preseason loss to Denver, he goes into recalling a lesson he took from that same day.
“We had a sermon in chapel today, earlier before the game, and it was talking about integrity. You can be honest but don’t have integrity, but what does it mean to be a leader?” Iguodala said. “We were just saying you lead by example, without wanting any credit for it. So I don’t want no credit for it.
“True story. But as a true leader, I can’t even say those words. I’m not allowed to even say that. I can’t say I’m a leader. I gotta say I try to do what’s best for the team.”
Then, he added: “Mike Brown’s my guy, yeah. You gotta look out for one another, that’s all.”
Got this Golden State star figured out yet?
The Warriors could have lost him this offseason because Iguodala was wanted just about everywhere, yet ultimately opted to stay put.
Sometimes, his dry sense of humor can be tricky to navigate — that deadpan wit an acquired taste. Yet ask anybody around Iguodala about how much he means both behind the scenes and on the court and they insist it’s immeasurable. This is the player whom Kerr asked to come off the bench before the 2014-15 title run and who he still appreciates so much to this day for his selflessness.
In July two years ago, after the franchise’s first championship in 40 years, Iguodala had a little fun on Twitter when Kerr noted the defensive stopper would likely be a super sub again.
“Then trade me,” Iguodala posted, before saying a minute later: “Ha! Got eeeeem! Yall know I’m playing.”
The 2015 NBA Finals MVP considered joining Houston and others this summer before he ultimately came back for what everybody is counting on being another deep postseason run to chase a second straight title, receiving a $48 million, three-year contract.
Brown isn’t sure Iguodala realizes how much he meant last spring, to which Kerr said with a smile, “Maybe Mike should tell him.”
“It doesn’t surprise me. That’s who Andre is,” Kerr said. “Andre’s one of our captains. He’s one of our true leaders. He brings it every day in practice, he’s one of the smartest players I’ve been around. He’s the guy who made the initial sacrifice in terms of coming off the bench. Andre, he’s irreplaceable for what he brings to us in so many different ways.”
Iguodala often drew the chore of guarding Cleveland star LeBron James during the Finals, and he scored his postseason high of 20 points in the Game 5 title clincher. He averaged 7.2 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.2 assists during the postseason for Golden State. During the regular season, he became the first Warrior to ever lead the NBA in assist-to-turnover ratio at 4.50 — 261 assists to 58 turnovers.
Last season, when Kevin Durant and Zaza Pachulia joined the starting lineup and David West and JaVale McGee became key backups, Iguodala warned that it could take months to build chemistry.
His stance hasn’t changed.
“I think we’re still building on it, that’s the great thing. The hardest part is having to understand, you know it’s going to be hard but can you continue to put layers on top of layers on top of layers as you have success and you’re not getting complacent, not getting comfortable,” he said. “So we understand that, we want to continue to get better so we’re going to keep building on what we’ve already established.”
Brown sure is appreciative, along with all the others.
“They had a certain connection,” Stephen Curry said of Brown and Iguodala. “He’s very timely with his input and his voice and he’s such a smart dude about pretty much everything. He’s very purposeful about everything he does and says, and he can be a jokester at times when it comes to trying to keep things light but he’s very aware. When he speaks up and when he gives us a gem in the locker room or on the court it means something.”