Well, the best thing not on this website, anyway. Master profiler Jonathan Abrams has taken on longtime NBA enigma (and Philadelphia 76er of nearly a decade) Andre Iguodala with his latest opus, and the article paints a typically complete, compelling and complex portrait of the oft-misunderstood baller.
You should really go to Grantland and read the whole thing yourself, but in case you're on a schedule at the moment, here's some highlights before you can get a full lunch break's worth of reading in:
- 'Dre always wanted to be Pippen. "Llike every basketball-dribbling Illinois kid growing up in the 1990s, he practiced his fadeaway like MJ. But Iguodala really wanted to be like Scottie. And the more he watched, the more he realized that Jordan's teammate Scottie Pippen influenced the game in profound ways, often without scoring...Iguodala studied how Pippen defended Indiana's point guard, Mark Jackson, in the 1998 conference finals. Guarding the shorter Jackson, Pippen almost single-handedly denied ball movement on his side of the court."
- Even in high school, he was a second banana. "[Richard] McBride leapfrogged Iguodala and everyone else, starting on the team's varsity squad from the moment he arrived on campus. 'We've had a lot of great players, but Rich McBride coming out his eighth-grade year was the best player I've ever seen in Springfield, by far,' said Pat McGuire, a former Lanphier assistant. 'Talentwise, he was ahead of the game. Andre was in his shadow.'"
- He never considered the NBA until the year before he was drafted. "One day, [teammate Hassan] Adams presented Iguodala with a printout of an online mock draft. An analyst had projected Iguodala as a first-round selection. Iguodala said he hadn't considered himself an NBA prospect before reading the mock draft. It changed him. 'I wasn't a college student [anymore],' Iguodala said. 'Everything was basketball. It was all about 'How do I get to a place I hadn't even dreamed about?' I didn't have fun in college because I was so focused on basketball.'"
- He might not have had fun in college, but at least he had a potentially Three's Company-esque living situation. "Iguodala moved in with two female soccer players, and their crisscrossed schedules worked to perfection. They were hardly home when Iguodala was. He was hardly home when they were. His solitary life paid off."
- Elton Brand and company used to call him "Malcolm X". "'He loves his friends,' Brand continued. 'But if you're not — we used to call him Malcolm X. He'd just give you his attitude if you were against him. It's a positive thing — if you're his friend or you're on his team, he'll do anything for you.'"
- He still smarts over the timing of his trade from Philly. "'I spoke to Doug damn near every day throughout the Olympics. The day before the trade, he was like, 'Great job with the game last night.' I think we beat Nigeria by 80 or something crazy like that. He was like, 'Can't wait to take the energy from the Olympics and take it to the season'....I wasn't upset about the trade, it was the timing. It was like, 'I'm in the Olympics, I'm playing some meaningful minutes, and you're trading me in the medal round.''"
- He still doesn't get why Philadelphia didn't appreciate his Sixers teams. "'They're saying the team hasn't had much success since Iverson's team went to the Finals,' Iguodala said. 'We only missed the playoffs twice. They were talking like we were just this bum squad the whole time I was there.'"
- He gets Jerry West's seal of approval. "[West] then told Iguodala, 'You would have loved playing with me. And I would have loved playing with you. 'Compliments like that from the Logo don't come often. 'Don't let it go to your head,' he said before departing."