Andre Iguodala was holding his 2015 NBA finals MVP trophy with heart felt appreciation to the Golden State Warriors organization. On the front of the two-toned cup lies Bill Russel’s name, carved and etched in honor of the game’s most prolific defender and 11-time champion. The NBA finals MVP has a rich history. To Michael Jordan’s all time record winning six times, to Magic Johnson winning the cup on his rookie year all the way to Jerry West winning the award for the first time while being on the losing team, this award has been given to 28 different players. Each has a story to tell, a memory and for Andre a validation of hard work and sacrifice.
It took 11 years, 3 different teams and a thousand heartaches before Andre finally got a championship. When Andre played in Philadelphia all he could hear are trade rumors and constant boos from the crowd. When he was doing mostly everything from defense to offense everyone wanted him to concentrate more on scoring. Years ago people embraced franchise players more than anything, because it’s always the stars that wins championships. From Wilt Chamberlain to Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant those are the ones that fills up the bleachers not the likes of Bill Russell, Tim Duncan and John Stockton. It took decades and years before people started to appreciate team basketball. We saw how the Dallas Mavericks defeated the Miami Heat’s big three in 2011 and we appreciate how each and every championship the San Antonio Spurs won with their unselfish team game and superb ball movement.
The band of misfits headed by Stephen Curry’s boyish image, Andrew Bogut’s never ending injuries, the undersized forward Draymond Green, Shaun Livingston’s injury in 2007 that could have amputate his legs, David Lee’s atrocious defense and a lot more. In so many ways, Andre saw himself in this team more than anything else. From 1 to 13 everyone has something to prove, their franchise, their city that waited for 40 years for a glimpse of a championship hope. “Strength in numbers” as the Warriors battle cry going into the playoffs. This also means giving up minutes and sacrificing everything for the team. For Andre, It was more of a leap of faith, trusting a rookie coach to give up his starting role and come off the bench for the first time in his career. In the laws of karma, history repeat itself until we learn the lessons we need to change our path. Everything starts with a selfless act, and everything follows.
David Lee gave up his starting role to Draymond Green on the first part of the season. And when the Dubs are trailing by 2-1 in the NBA finals, Steve Kerr went small ball and Andrew Bogut gave up his starting role to Andre. It was like watching tag-team wrestling, nobody really cared about minutes, nobody really cared about scoring, as long as they are winning.
It all goes back to 2012, when Andre played his best team with the Sixers. His team played superbly well in defense and they shared the ball more often with six players scoring nine or more points but none as many as 16. Their leading scorer was a six-foot-1 point guard, Lou Williams. And Andre is the team’s captain. Their team went as high as the second round of the playoffs, winning against the number one team in the east… the Chicago Bulls in the first round and losing to Boston in game 7 of the second round. Nobody thought their team would go as high as the eight seed, but they continue to defy the odds and almost book a spot to the Eastern conference finals.
The Warriors are no Sixers, this time it’s a bit different. The Dubs have enough fire power to win all the way. They have the greatest support system that any player could have. A selfless team, a supportive franchise and the people who have their own share of frustrations but never wavered.
Andre deservingly won the Finals MVP, not because he was the most consistent player in the court. It’s because people are starting to notice the selflessness of the team, and it all start from one sacrifice.
He etched his name in basketball history as the only player who never started a game before the NBA finals and won the MVP. It took him four games and 11 years before he was finally noticed.
Andre Iguodala may never be the best player in the planet, but he got the best team.
He owes it to the Warriors, and he owes it to himself.
Good Karma has arrived.