ORLANDO, Florida. – 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 that brings a twist: it’s August and he’s with a team he’s getting to know.
Iguodala did not join the Heat until February and before the season was stopped, he only played 21 games. Even then, his role and record were sporadic due to the transition; Iguodala didn’t have the training ground advantage and hadn’t played all season while sitting outside, by mutual agreement with the Grizzlies, until Memphis found a team for him.
He is still in supreme form at the age of 36, but what is most noticeable are the patches of gray in the veteran swingman’s hair. There’s a lot of wisdom within Iguodala, one of the main reasons Miami not only traded for him – by relinquishing Justise Winslow in the process – but also extended his contract.
Miami sees itself as a contender, with a rapidly developing mix of veterans and young talent, both now and in the near future. Iguodala was added to bring the playoff experience; just five years ago he was Finals MVP and has steadily improved his game in the postseason.
“I feel great,” he said. “This is a good fit for me, and I understand my role, and there are many reasons to appreciate where this team and this franchise are going.”
This wisdom is why he gets a good interview. There is a lot of perspective here. Iguodala touched on the Heat, his longtime admiration for team president Pat Riley, why Jimmy Butler looks so angry, why he chose his slogan for social justice and also what the Warriors should do with the No. 2 ever.
(Editor’s note: The following 1-on-1 conversation has been condensed and edited.)
How were your conversations with coach Erik Spoelstra?
We discussed the boys. We had a lot of discussion about Bam (Adebayo) and how excited we were about him and his progress, the high expectations and how Bam can exceed those expectations. We also talked about what he expects of me. Whenever I see a void, I try to go in and fill it. I was able to have a really good feel for different formations, different groups. For me it is about identifying the value I bring to the table, how I can fit into that group. That’s what I’ve done throughout my career. Now there is more comfort with the boys.
After being an important part of a Warriors dynasty, what’s the culture like in Miami?
This is a place where players can develop, learning to be a pro. They set the standard for how to make a guy understand the game and how to improve, watch the movie, work on your game, turn weaknesses into strengths. The boys are willing to receive criticism and advice and immediately start putting it into their game. It’s all encouraged here and it’s good to see.
You’re mentoring 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. A hard worker, he wants to be great, and he will. Tyler has a tighter dribble than you think. He is very confident in his game. Very hard worker, he wants to be great. It is something you cannot teach. I can’t teach someone to have that drive and set high goals and pursue them every day. If it has a flaw, it will work on that. Like, left hand swiping, that’s something he worked on. It also results in the defensive part.
What about Duncan Robinson? It’s bursting here in the bubble.
Dunc has become a household name. Now talk on Twitter (laughs). I’m on Duncan all the time. I tell him look, you are 6-8 and shoot the ball like you do. Your shooting skills will open up a world of opportunities. He takes advice to heart.
You were a huge Pat Riley fan even before you joined the Heat. What was it like finally talking to him?
I read his book five years ago, and then hearing his speech, knowing he has this swag on him, I almost laughed a couple of times when we first spoke. I told him I had read his book. He explained his book, the teams he coached, how he tried to make them great. As we deepened our conversations, I realized why so many players were drawn to him. A very quiet talker, has a vision, very good to be around.