Warriors

Kerr reflects on moving Igoudala to Warriors' second unit

Warriors
Kerr, Iguodala

Andre Iguodala already has cemented his status in the Warriors' lore. Being named the 2014-15 NBA Finals MVP in Golden State's first championship berth in 40 years will do that. 

However, that magical run might not have happened without a first-year coach's bold decision to change the seasoned NBA veteran's role.

In fact, Steve Kerr can still recall the conversations he had with Iguodala throughout the early portion of that season when the rookie coach decided to move the former NBA All-Star to the Warriors' second unit, marking the first time Iguodala would come off the bench in his career.

"It was a series of conversations, it wasn’t just one," Kerr said to NBC Sports Bay Area's Kerith Burke in a pregame video conference before Wednesday's matchup against Iguodala and the Miami Heat. "I had to sort of put it out there at first, like ‘Hey, this is something we might think about.' "

"As I remember it, it took Andre a couple of months to feel comfortable," Kerr added. "He had never come off the bench in a single game in his NBA career. It was a hell of a sacrifice."

It took a combination of persuasion and the correct approach, both of which Kerr nailed. 

"What I explained to him was we needed him to be our [Manu] Ginobili." Kerr said. "The Spurs had just won the championship the year before with Ginobili coming off the bench. I told him, 'You could make a much bigger impact on our team with our second unit than you can with our starters. Because we have Steph [Curry] and Klay [Thompson] lighting it up, you can come in and run the team with the second unit.’ "

 

It undoubtedly was a tall proposal, but one that Iguodala eventually took in stride, knowing it was the best move for the team at the time.

And of course, as often is the case in sports, you couldn't have scripted a more fitting end to the season.

"To his credit, over the course of the season he embraced it," Kerr said. "You couldn’t have asked for a better ending than going to the Finals and turning to him and saying, ‘By the way, we need you to start now.'"

Yes, after all the tribulations regarding Iguodala and Golden State's first and second unit, the guard closed out his season -- and his first career NBA title -- back in the Warriors' starting lineup. Heading into Game 4 of the NBA Finals, the Warriors had dropped two straight games to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Something had to change, and Kerr knew what. 

Kerr moved Iguodala back to the starting five, even though he had not started a game in over a year. No matter. As Dub Nation thoroughly knows, Iguodala had no issues returning to his old form.

The Warriors had no issues with the Cavaliers after that, either. They won their next three games, all with Iguodala starting, and secured their first NBA championship since the 1974-75 season. Iguodala earned MVP honors after averaging 16.3 points. 5.8 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game in the series.

"Poetic justice, I think, at the end of the season," Kerr said. "Perfect way to cap it off."

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Now the 37-year-old is in his second season with the Heat and his 16th season in the NBA. He will face off against the Warriors for the second time since being traded to the Memphis Grizzlies after the conclusion of the 2018-19 season. Although he has traveled all over the league, he still has plenty of love for his former team and the two additional titles he won with them.

That feeling certainly is mutual.

"That’s why Andre will always be one of my favorites," Kerr said. "His selflessness and willingness to do whatever it takes to win the game."

 

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