It was a strange season for Andre Iguodala, but one that has him finishing it right where he has each of the last six seasons: The NBA Finals.
Iguodala opened the season on the Memphis Grizzlies roster but was sitting out while waiting for a contender to acquire him for the stretch run. Some expected the 2015 NBA Finals MVP to sit out the entire season and then re-sign with the Warriors in the offseason.
While it was good fodder for fan talk and debate shows, that was never Iguodala's plan.
"People brought it up all the time," Iguodala told ESPN's Ramona Shelburne. "But when you look at the salary caps, look at how things work, I [couldn't] go back there until 2022. So it was never a thought throughout the whole process."
Eventually, the Miami Heat came calling and acquired the veteran swingman, giving him a two-year extension to keep him in South Beach during their open title window.
Iguodala's Heat have thrived in the NBA bubble, running through the Indiana Pacers, Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics before arriving in the NBA Finals to face LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers.
Much has been made of the Heat culture and how important it is to Miami's ability to quickly rebuild after the Big Three era and return to the Finals.
Iguodala was immersed in the Warriors' winning culture for five seasons. He thrived under coach Steve Kerr and alongside Steph Curry. While his role is different with the Heat, Iguodala has found similar success with the Heat. He's just made for the big moments.
"It’s just that you can take two different roads to success," Iguodala told The Athletic when describing the Warriors and Heat culture. "At the end of the day, the principles are still the same. You come in, you work hard, the talent is going to take you to the top.
"There’s different ways of going about it, and with both teams when I needed to be at my peak I was there."
Iguodala and the Heat were run over by the Lakers in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. With Goran Dragic and Bam Adebayo doubtful for Game 2, more will be expected of Iguodala if the Heat are to ensure a long series.
Erik Spoelstra will rely on Iguodala's championship experience and veteran savvy to help guide a relatively unexperienced team through a Finals match with James. Curry and the rest of the Warriors are in their old running mate's corner, hoping he can raise his game once again to secure another ring.