As overly dedicated Philly sports fans, we all probably watch too many hours of ball games every week. Multiply that over 52 weeks a year, times however many years you've been alive, and you've surely seen thousands and thousands of hours of your favorite athletes competing. But when you think back on any one player or any particular team's season, typically most of us only remember a couple of the game-changing plays.
Every superstar has their signature moment. Some even have a few. Allen Iverson stepping over Tyronn Lue is always the first play I think of when I recall the glory days of Bubba Chuck. The young rookie A.I. crossing up Michael Jordan is certainly at the forefront of my Sixers memories as well. Jimmy Rollins had the two-out walkoff in Game 4 of the 2009 NLCS against the Dodgers. Chase Utley had the deke and throw home in the game that crowned the Phillies WFC in 2008. Dr. J had the up-and-under brilliant layup against the Lakers. Ryan Howard had "Get me to the plate, boys." Mike Richards had "the shift" against Montreal in 2010. These are my memories of the superstars I've watched in Philadelphia. Donovan McNabb had the scramble and heave against the Cowboys.
Andre Iguodala, despite playing here for the better part of a decade, never really had a signature moment. Yes, he's hit a couple big game winners, a nice one against the Lakers in 2009, and the dagger against the Magic in the playoffs down in Orlanda that same year, but those shots were from mostly forgettable games/series from a forgettable team. I'd even go so far as to argue that the most memorable moment of Iguodala's career, for me at least, was his sick-nasty-ridiculous dunk from Iverson off-the-backboard in the dunk contest years back when he got robbed of a victory by Nate Robinson. Still bitter.
The often misguided vitriol towards Iguodala becomes tired. But his free throw shooting during clutch time truly was abominable.
So it was with great joy that I sat in the stands of the Wells Fargo Center on Thursday night and watched Iguodala slam his place into the positive memories of Philadelphia sports fans in the most absurd of fashions. By not slamming at all.
It was story book alright, but mostly because anytime he got to the line late in games this season, anyone who watched them for even two games this season knew how awful he was down the stretch from the charity stripe.
Your thoughts on Dre aside for one night, you absolutely had to feel happy for him after hitting those two shots.
If Dre had hit two free throws to win a meaningless regular season game in March we'd probably remember that moment like it were yesterday, but he hit two free throws to propel his team on to the second round of the playoffs for the first time in a decade, a No. 8 seed over a No. 1.
And he had one heck of a story to go along with it.
After struggling from the line earlier in the Bulls series, Dre got some advice from teammate Tony Battie: think of something you love when you're shooting the freebies.
"Actually, I started thinking of my son when I shoot free throws,” Iguodala said when asked about what was going through his mind before he drained a pair. "So I’m kind of talking to him when I shoot free throws. It makes it a lot easier. You relax a little bit more and it kind of becomes like practice. You shut everything else out.”
"It’s like I’m teaching him how to shoot free throws, and when you’re teaching your son how to shoot free throws, you can’t miss. You’d look kinda crazy."
Iguodala's son now has some playoff game tape to watch if he ever wants to learn how to be clutch.
And No. 9 now has one truly memorable signature Philly sports moment.
Dre on hitting the free throws: