Andre Iguodala hasn’t played since Game 4 of the Warriors’ first-round series against the Denver Nuggets due to a neck injury. The injury has sidelined Iguodala for 13 of their last 16 playoff games, including 12 straight, while he recovers. As of Wednesday, Iggy has been ruled questionable for Game 1 of the FInals along with Gary Payton II.
But Iggy’s injury woes haven’t prevented him from playing a vital role for the Warriors as a player-assistant coach while in street clothes. This is mainly done by mentoring Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody all season and keeping this deep playoff run in perspective. According to Shayna Rubin of the Mercury News, Iguodala has made sure to remind the rookies to take plenty of pictures and keep memorabilia.
“Historically, they aren’t supposed to take on everything that comes with being in the Finals,” Iguodala said. “They’re supposed to be on college campuses learning about themselves, learning who they are as people, learning what they like, learning what they don’t like, instead of these guys making five-plus million dollars a year, got all the pressures, the madness of having money and being in the spotlight. You can become jaded. You can start taking these things for granted.
“It’s not their fault. I’m guilty of it, just being in the Finals so many times where I feel nothing. I just know it’s my job to go out and win. Really no joy in it; it’s just going to work.
Iggy has also maintained his brutal honesty with playoff vets like Kevon Looney and players playing in the playoffs for the first time like Jordan Poole. The third-year guard said Iggy “doesn’t leave any rock unturned,” and as a three-time champ, he coaches “how he sees the game unfold.”
“Extremely meticulous,” Poole said. “He likes to point out the details and small things. He has a lot of knowledge, and he’s willing to share, which is really cool to be a part of — He’s also extremely real. He’ll keep it a rack; he won’t sugarcoat anything. Being able to have him in our corner as a vet is huge.”
Iguodala’s knowledge as an 18-year vet and a player who played a significant role in the Warriors’ title runs as a versatile defender in Golden State’s small-ball lineups has earned him the ear of the younger Warriors.
His institutional knowledge of Golden State’s playstyle and culture has helped him stay in the League just as much as his quick hands, length, and athleticism. At 38-years-old, Iggy isn’t a part of the Warriors’ long-term plan, but for the time he’s relied on to be a strong voice on the bench.
He’s been given even more leeway as a veteran and player-coach because the Warriors championship core of Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson trust him to help Poole, Kuminga, and Moody see what they see on the floor. Having him in their collective ear will only make playing on the biggest stage of basketball even more when it matters the most.
“He has access, not just physical access but emotional access that the coaching staff does not have,” Coach Steve Kerr said. “Frankly, there’s a trust factor that exists that can’t possibly exist between players and coaches. That’s why the role is so important. He has a different vantage point, and the guys believe in him so much, and he’s just brilliant at demanding and embracing and everything in between.”
Iggy awaits clearance for Thursday’s Game 1 of the NBA Finals.