CLEVELAND: Andre Iguodala set the tone for the Golden State Warriors this season when he accepted demotion to a reserve role for the first time in his 11-year NBA career.
But it was when he was inserted into the starting line-up in the NBA Finals that he turned around the team’s fortunes and sparked Golden State over the Cleveland Cavaliers to bring the Warriors their first title in 40 years.
Iguodala scored a season-high 25 points and added five points and five rebounds in the Warriors’ 105-97 road victory on Tuesday that brought a 4-2 triumph in the best-of-seven championship series and secured the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player (MVP) honors for the 31-year-old forward.
“I was just happy for winning the ring. I didn’t care about anything else. This is just a plus,” Iguodala said. “This has been a long ride. It has been a great season, and we’re just going to enjoy the moment. This is an amazing feeling.”
Iguodala, an NBA All-Star and US London Olympic gold medalist, was an amazing finals MVP, the first one not to start every game of a finals or not to start any regular season contest. And this after starting all 806 combined career season and playoff appearances before this season.
“It’s really fitting the award went to Andre because he sacrificed his starting role from the first game of the season,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.
“He had never come off the bench once in his entire career and he sacrificed that job and that set the tone for everything we were able to accomplish so it feels like full circle to me that Andre received the award.”
The Cavaliers led the finals 2-1 when Kerr placed center Andrew Bogut with Iguodala for a smaller, faster line-up to create a faster pace and better starts. It worked. The Warriors won the last three games with Iguodala starting.
“Whether I’m scoring the ball or I’m not, I’m really effective in being a force on the court,” Iguodala said. “I think that has helped me throughout my career and it’s helped my career last this long and be this effective.”