Barber: Andre Iguodala beat the system, and Heat beat Warriors 113-101
SAN FRANCISCO - Zach Norvell Jr.? Jeremy Pargo? Juan Toscano- Anderson? Sheesh, you ignore the Warriors for a couple weeks, and by the time you get reacquainted, half the roster has turned over.
There was at least one familiar face in Monday night’s 113-101 loss to the Miami Heat, though. It’s just that Andre Iguodala was sitting on the wrong bench. He made his Chase Center debut in just his second game with his new team, the Heat.
It was jarring to see Iguodala, pillar of three NBA championships and MVP of the 2015 NBA Finals, in the comic-panel pink-on-aqua uniform of the Heat. He was never Golden State’s best player, but his versatility and on-court intelligence epitomized the team that controlled the league for five seasons. Warriors fans acknowledged as much before the game, rising for a standing ovation during a pregame video tribute to the small forward.
Iguodala’s appearance was a warm and fuzzy moment in a season that hasn’t presented many for the Warriors. It was also a statement on the NBA, and how the balance of power is shifting in favor of the players.
No one expected Iguodala to play for Miami this season, least of all the Warriors. They traded him to Memphis last July 7, part of the machinations designed to unload Kevin Durant and get something in return, namely D’Angelo Russell.
Iguodala had other ideas, though. He was 35 years old at the time of the trade. He had already enjoyed an illustrious career, perhaps a Basketball Hall of Fame career. He was deeply immersed in the tech industry and had come to love golf nearly as much as hoops.
In other words, Iguodala was in a rare position among professional athletes. He was in position to say “no.”
“I think everybody’s situation is different,” Iguodala said, addressing the media before Monday’s game. “You’re gonna have to assess all the moving parts of everyone’s individual situation.”
In Iguodala’s case, the moving parts assembled to form a clear picture. He would rather sit out a few months, or sit out the season, or maybe even retire, rather than play for a rebuilding team that seemed headed to nowhere in 2020.
It was an audacious move, and it stirred up resentment. I’m sure Iguodala will be persona non grata in Memphis for a while. And when the Grizzlies emerged as a surprisingly competitive team behind Rookie of the Year favorite Ja Morant, some of the team’s young players took exception, too.
“I cant wait til we find a way to trade him so we can play him and show him really what Memphis is about,” wing player Dillon Brooks tweeted on Feb. 3.
And if Iguodala could play hardball, so could the Grizzlies. They refused to buy out the veteran’s contract, forcing him to the sidelines for the first 3½ months of the season.
Iguodala filled his time by working out relentlessly (have you ever seen him?), logging hours for a tech company just blocks from Chase Center (“Every time I was walking to work, people kind of weirded out,” he said) and being a husband and father (“I got a two-year-old that’s got a great golf swing, so I’ve gotta caddy soon”).