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Thank you, Iggy

When the Warriors traded for Andre Iguodala in 2013, much was expected of the rangy forward. After all, he had earned his first All-Star appearance just the year before and looked to have several quality years as an efficient shooter, stretchy dunker and intelligent defensive whiz. But life has a way of humbling us when we least expect it.

When Steve Kerr joined the franchise in 2015, he recognized the need to bolster the bench with much-needed leadership. he knew that a team was only as strong as its weakest link and felt that Iguodala would fit in well. He just needed to buy in.

And he did. All through that magical 2014-2015 season, Andre led by example while providing as a valuable sixth man. When the Warriors reached their first NBA Finals in 40 years and trailed the Cavaliers by a game, they looked to their sixth man. Like a little-used Queen on a chess board, the Warriors inserted him into the starting lineup to go up against arguably the greatest player of his generation: LeBron James.

For the next three games, Andre Iguodala showed the world his worth. Sure, James was still phenomenal. Iguodala hardly had a chance to stifle James from leading both teams in points, assists and rebounds. But in the long run, Andre Iguodala did just enough to slow down the big man, his great wingspan providing enough hesitation for his teammates to get into position, his intelligence providing much-needed insight into the mind of the King.

When the Warriors raised the Larry O'Brien Trophy, it was Andre Iguodala, not Steph Curry, who won the Finals MVP. After that game, he returned to the bench. Although he could have been less humble about it, he never uttered a bad word about the Warriors, instead embracing his role as one of the game's best sixth men. From then on, he became synonymous with just about every one of the Warriors' most important moments during their dynasty years.

It was he that provided the free-throws that forced overtime in Oklahoma City that mid-February night, the one that ended in one of Curry's greatest buzzer beaters. Warriors fans writhed in agony alongside him when they saw him desperately trying to loosen his back in the 2016 NBA Finals. Although James got revenge on him that year by swatting away a probable dunk/layup late in Game 7, Iggy returned the favor the next two years. Along with Kevin Durant, he provided the windmill dunks that put Dub Nation into a frenzy as the Warriors beat the Cavs in 2017 and 2018.

After losing to the Raptors in 2019, he left for greener pastures in Miami. He wasn't gone for long, though. When he returned to the Bay Area in 2021, he had aged considerably and was well past his prime. He could no longer be relied upon to be the sixth man that his teammates and Dub Nation had come to know and love. Their love never wavered and often spoke of him in reverence.

He was hurt for much of the year and played hardly a minute in the NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics. As the Warriors celebrated another Finals triumph, cameras zeroed in on a frenzied Iggy. Why was he not celebrating with his teammates? He was looking for the game ball to give to the Finals MVP: Steph Curry. He was the perfect teammate until the end.

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