In roughly fifteen days, Andre Iguodala will stroll through the gymnasium doors at St. Joseph’s University with new hardware and perhaps a better understanding of where his basketball talents lay. For those of you who didn’t catch the FIBA World Championships (and I’d imagine that the number who didn’t far outweigh the few who did) I’ll do my best to recap.
1) The USA walked away with the gold medal winning by an average of 31.8 points per game.
2) Kevin Durant absolutely dominated the tournament breaking three different team USA scoring records and proving that he now deserves to be mentioned in the same breadth as Lebron James… Durants nondescript decision to resign with OKC could end up being the most important subplot of an offseason that saw some fairly absurd subplots (see The Decision)
3) Andre Iguodala for the first time in perhaps his entire professional life found his niche on the basketball court. Apparently he is a fast, long, athletic, shutdown defending, high-energy swingman of the first degree. He still may not be able to score or hit a three but who cares.
And what great news for the Sixers, right? Well, not exactly. This unfortunately is terrible news for the Sixers and I can think of eighty million guaranteed reasons why. The basketball revelation that unfolded on the hardwood some five thousand miles away only highlights the perdition of today’s NBA. A league that pays fast, long, athletic, shutdown defending high-energy swingmen who can’t score or hit an open three the equivalent of some country’s Gross National Product.
What the World Championships taught us is that Iguodala is so wholly miscast as an elite franchise player you almost can’t help but feel bad for the guy. It’d be like casting Ronnie and Sammie as Romeo and Juliet (don’t act like you don’t watch the Jersey Shore).
He is much more Matt Barnes and Raja Bell than he is Dwayne Wade or Kobe Bryant. Yet he is forced into that role. The league has such a dearth of overall talent that players who show even the slightest shade of discernible skill are thrown into that star category. What’s sad is that neither party wins in this situation (not a Jersey Shore reference) The Sixers are saddled with a player who they need to score, hit big shots and take over games and Iguodala is thrust into that role while failing in vein at every turn. He’s just not that guy, never will be.
There are some who think he has a self-inflated view of his place in the league, that he in fact does see himself as that guy and will work tirelessly to prove it. I’d have to imagine that his time across the Atlantic took the shine off that view. Seeing the gap between his game and players like Durant and Derrick Rose must have been visible to even the most ardent of self-believing athletes.
I suppose this realization is mostly inconsequential though seeing that this unfortunate pair is stuck with each other for the foreseeable future. If we’re looking for a silver lining then perhaps we can cling to the idea that Evan Turner and Jrue Holiday will prove to be all-star caliber players allowing Iguodala to fall back and settle into his proper role. For the sake of the Sixers and number nine I just hope that happens sooner rather than later.