OAKLAND, Calif. — When all about him are frantic, definitely in the stands, and perhaps even on the court, Andre Iguodala of the Warriors searches for equanimity not easily located during an NBA game.
“I normally try to keep coolness about myself,” Iguodala said. “Not just for me but for the team as well. We can kind of get giddy out there and lose it a little bit, so I try to get us back to that even balance. That’s pretty much my role on this team.”
In this NBA Finals against the Cavaliers, no less importantly, his role also has been to defend arguably the best player in the sport, LeBron James. A year ago that assignment helped Iguodala become the Finals MVP, and he was no less efficient in Game 1 Thursday night.
But before Game 2 Sunday night, Iguodala was warily composed. He’s been there, done that. He understands the vagaries and inconsistencies of the sport, as one would expect of someone who is 32 and a 12-year veteran.
After Game 1, the Warriors had defeated the Cavs and LeBron six straight times, including the last three games of the 2015 Finals and twice during this past regular season. Kind of giddy? The fan base acts as if the series already has been decided.
“That’s what our day and age has come to: looking ahead,” Iguodala said. “And there are so many opinions that you forget about what goes into every single game preparation. You forget how concentrated our league is with talent. Anybody can win on any given night.”
“(The Cavs) are a championship team, and they’re championship caliber. One night may not be the night. But the next night could be both teams’ night, and they could get the best of us. They’re hungry, and they want to win the championship. If we don’t play our best basketball, they can beat us.”
Iguodala was the main man for the 76ers from 2005-2012 and won a gold medal with the 2012 U.S. Olympic team. After a season with the Nuggets, he joined the Warriors before the 2013-14 season — and went to the bench. He accepted the role of backup although he had trouble adjusting after years as a starter.
“But now I have my rhythm,” he said of being a sub.
He also has his wits about him.
“We all see it, the way he takes care of his body, eats right,” Warriors backup center Festus Ezeli told the San Jose Mercury. “He’s there with me every morning working on his body, making sure he lifts weights to keep his strength. Genetics have a lot to do with it because he’s a freak athlete as well.”
Last offseason, Iguodala traveled to Germany to receive injections in his knees to ease joint soreness. “He doesn’t eat sugar,” Harrison Barnes said. “I think that’s his secret.”
Iguodala averaged 26.6 minutes a game in the regular season but was up to 31.3 in the playoffs, including almost 36 against the Cavs in Game 1 and 43 in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals against Oklahoma City.
“Part of the plan during the regular season,” coach Steve Kerr joked, “is to try to keep his minutes down so that we can run him into the ground during the playoffs because we need him.”
Especially when James is on the other team.