OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Andre Iguodala has been doing more dunking this offseason, and that’s rare for him when nothing is on the line.
Even with fresh knees following a trip to Germany to receive special injections, Iguodala is expected to go from NBA Finals MVP back to his role as a key reserve for the champion Golden State Warriors.
He’s OK with all that, just don’t go mentioning anything about the Sixth Man of the Year Award.
“So, the sixth man, the position I don’t have a problem with, but the award, it’s not that it’s not important, but being singled out, it’s like affirmative action or something like that to me,” Iguodala said. “So, it’s like, whatever.”
The Warriors began training camp Tuesday with a tall task of trying to repeat after the franchise captured its first title in 40 years.
The 31-year-old Iguodala, acquired in a trade from Denver on July 10, 2013, averaged 16.3 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.3 steals in 37 minutes on the way to Finals MVP honors. That included a 25-point performance in the Game 6 clincher against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Second-year coach Steve Kerr plans to stick with his starting lineup, meaning Iguodala will be coming off the bench.
“The guy was the MVP of the Finals and won a championship,” Kerr said Tuesday. “There’s always a comfort level I would think that goes along with that. He’s one of our best players, he set the tone last year with his unselfishness.”
Iguodala’s 8-year-old son, Andre Tyler II, is counting on his father to win the Finals’ top honor again this season.
“My son has higher expectations for me, that’s the curse of that,” Iguodala said with a grin. “`You’re going to win it again next year.’ He doesn’t really get it.”
At least the boy’s father did all he could to prepare his body for the grind of another deep run after a playoff-shortened offseason. The 6-foot-6 swingman recently traveled to Germany to receive injections in his achy knees.
“The knees feel really good. I’ve been dunking a lot lately, which I normally don’t do in the offseason,” the 12th-year veteran said.
Iguodala didn’t even make his first start of the season until his 96th game — Game 4 of the Finals at Cleveland — and went off for 22 points with four 3-pointers and eight rebounds.
Now, he is prepared to do what he is most used to in Kerr’s system: be a spark off the bench. It certainly suited him well even if he had been a starter for his entire career with Philadelphia and the Nuggets before making the switch last season.
New Golden State guard Ben Gordon got to know Iguodala, Stephen Curry and other Warriors in Las Vegas this summer and he has been shooting around with Iguodala during some recent evenings.
“That was one of the biggest things I congratulated him about this summer, one thing he got a lot of flak for when he was in Philly was for not being an over-20-plus per-game scorer,” Gordon said. “He does a lot of things out there that show up on the stat sheet and don’t show up on the stat sheet. The opportunity for him to play well in the Finals and end up winning the MVP is a credit to him sticking with it and believing in his game.”
Even if he was one of the league’s best backups for the 67-win Warriors, Iguodala doesn’t need any extra award for it. Now, if it happens, he would be thrilled.
“A lot of sixth men have more responsibility and they’ve made more of an impact sometimes than 80 percent of the rest of the guys on the team, so it’s just a name,” Iguodala said.
“But if I got it, it would be something pretty cool having the career I had and then being able to embrace something different that’s normally not accepted or thought of as cool by guys who have started their whole career, been MVPs, in The Finals or the regular season, played in the Olympics or have been All-Stars. They shy away from that.”
Notes: G Leandro Barbosa is being delayed by visa issues back home in Brazil and is expected to join the Warriors in the next couple of days. … Golden State’s first practice was just shy of two hours, and Kerr won’t be doing two-a-days. “Two-a-days are overrated,” he said. “I will probably never do a two-a-day again in my life. We just had a nine-month season.”