The cynic amongst us might suggest that former Philadelphia 76er Andre Iguodala was simply trying to avoid getting booed in his return to the city of Brotherly Love when he posted an open letter to Philly fans on his website thanking them for the support he received during his eight seasons as a Sixer.
Since I have been less than kind to Iguodala in this spot in the past, I figured I would post the entire letter and then leave it up to you to decide the small forward’s motive:
I would like to take the time to thank you and all your devoted sports fans for the passion, loyalty and spirit that you gave to me during my eight seasons with the Philadelphia 76ers.
Thanks as well to the 76ers organization, who gave me the opportunity to fulfill my lifelong dream of playing in the NBA and provided me with a great front office of dedicated people to work with. I would also like to thank all the coaches, trainers and teammates that I was blessed to compete along side and build lasting relationships with here.
Tonight I begin a new chapter in my career but I will always share my accomplishments with the city and the organization and I thank you both for all that you have done for me.
Whatever moved Iguodala to reach out to Philly hoop heads, it certainly did not drive him to be at his best on the court on Wednesday. In his Denver Nuggets debut, Iguodala looked uneasy, despite playing in the building he called his office for the previous eight seasons. The small forward appeared overly-anxious to succeed, like he was trying to force a square peg into a round hole.
In many ways that’s the perfect description for Iguodala’s Sixers career. The man who should have been the perfect supporting actor, wanted to be cast in the lead role, despite the fact that he lacked the requisite skills to carry such a heavy burden.
On occasion after occasion, Philly fans watched Iguodala attempt to do too much. They witnessed a bad jump shooter try and turn himself into a perimeter threat. They saw an athletically gifted slasher repeatedly try and beat people off the dribble. It was never a question of effort with Iguodala. He just never seemed able or willing to embrace the strengths of his game and to stay away from his weaknesses.
Those traits were on full display in his homecoming on Wednesday. Iguodala turned in a pedestrian line of 11 points, four rebounds and four assists. He turned the ball over four times and missed eight of his 13 shot attempts from the field. He was so bad that the Nuggets were outscored by 19 points during his time on the floor.
Many of Iguodala’s issues on Wednesday were self-inflicted. Two of his turnovers were the result of ill-advised drives, another came after he left his feet on his way to the basket with absolutely no plan whatsoever of what to do with the ball. He forced up way too many jumpers far too early in the shot clock and he gambled for steals but came up empty multiple times on defense, which resulted in several easy Philly buckets.
If Iguodala accepts the fact that he is not a star and never will be, he can be a real asset to the Nuggets. But if he continues with the hero-complex behavior that he displayed during his Sixers tenure and continued in Wednesday’s season opener, he could doom George Karl’s team.
Either way, Sixers fans certainly seemed happy to be rid of the talented but maddening small forward. They booed him lustily during starting lineups and every single time he touched the ball in the first half. Still, the Philadelphia faithful showed class by giving Iguodala a standing ovation after the 76ers replayed his series-clinching free throws in last season’s game six victory over Chicago during the first media time out.
Iguodala got his moment in the spotlight, which I’m sure gave his overly inflated ego great satisfaction. But Sixers fans were able to spend the ensuing 48 minutes of game-action reaffirming why they were so fired up to see Iguodala move on during the offseason.