Iguodala ready for next phase
New Denver Nuggets swingman discusses trade from 76ers, Olympics, more
ESPN.com spent some time this past week with Andre Iguodala in New York City, touching on his transition to the Denver Nuggets after eight years with the Philadelphia 76ers, his preparations for the 2012-13 season, his days in Philly and his Olympic experience.
Q: Now that you're in a new city for the first time in your career, how do you feel about moving? Considering the Sixers crept into the Dwight Howard trade picture last minute, is any part of you surprised or have you found more positives in the next chapter?
Iguodala: I take everything good. It's a different organization, but there haven't been any negatives at all, honestly. There are certain things I've never had before, like an open practice facility. I've been doing two-a-days all week. And on the second of the two-a-days, I was by myself. I would just go to the gym, open the door and walk in and shoot for like two hours. I never had that before. So I'm like, 'This is crazy.' I'm going to be in the gym all day. So things like that have been good. I don't even think of like, 'I got traded.' I just think of, 'Hey, I get to play ball.'
Also, I've just been through so much as far as variables. I've never had stability as far as like coaches. I've always had a different coach, a different GM or a different key player every year. My first year, I had Jim O'Brien as coach, my second year it changed to Mo Cheeks and we had Chris Webber, then the third year AI [Allen Iverson] got traded, and then two years after that Mo Cheeks got fired, then a year after that we had a new GM and a new coach, Eddie Jordan, then Doug Collins. It was like 12, 13 different things in eight years, so change is not hard for me.
Q: What's it been like in Denver with the guys, being together for the first time?
Iguodala: It's been good -- just trying to get used to them and figuring the guys out. It's different personalities. That's the biggest thing I've got to figure out -- how guys react to different things. It's a young crew, so we've got some goofy young guys. Andre Miller's there, so I've got to get used to playing with him again. It's been a lot of fun so far. I've been working hard with [Nuggets strength and conditioning coach] Steve Hess, and we ran the mountains [Red Rocks Amphitheatre] one day, so that was fun.
Q: Wow, how far up?
Iguodala: It was like 69 rows. You go up a row, then across the whole row, up a row, across the whole row.
Q: Are you getting used to the low air pressure with the high altitude?
Iguodala: I got that out of the way the first two days, so I was good. One guy passed out after the second row. He was done, man, and throwing up. It was so funny.
Q: Really? I know that's a big adjustment for guys out there.
Iguodala: But if you just run as hard as you can for like two days straight, you'll be all right.
Q: Have you had a chance to sit down with George Karl yet to discuss the season?
Iguodala: We had dinner a couple weeks ago and we spoke. We talked about my role a little bit. I still think I have to show him some things that he doesn't know that I can do yet. It's kind of like I have to try all over again, but that's been the story of my career, though. So many different coaches, it's like you've got to prove yourself again. It's a perception thing. It's not like you can't do it; it's just that you've got to show him that you can do it again. So I've got to go through that phase again, but it's been good so far, especially with the young group.
Q: Considering how versatile you are, what position do you think you'll play?
Iguodala (smiling): I'm on the court all the time. I'm going to play the 1 a little bit. I mean, if I get the rebound, I'm going. But Gallo [Danilo Gallinari] and I will be on the wings mostly. Once we just get acclimated, we can be a solid team.
Q: With all of the attention the Lakers and Thunder are getting, do you like how your team is flying under the radar?
Iguodala: We're trying to fly under the radar. We have a rough start. We only have like three home games in the first three weeks -- it's sick -- but if we get through that, we're going to be scary. We're just trying to stay silent right now; keep working, keep grinding. I saw JaVale McGee play yesterday and he looked really good. He's goofy, he doesn't have top-developed plays, but he wants to get better. He's very talented and he works hard, and he's improved a lot this summer.
Q: Speaking of improvement, what's been the focus for you preparing for the season?
Iguodala: For me, it's just getting my confidence back offensively. Last year, I didn't get too many attempts because I was pretty much a facilitator. I don't want to have that label stuck on me for the rest of my career, so I got back into attack mode. George Karl and I talked about me getting stronger, that I've got to attack the basket. The great thing is I did shoot a high 3-point percentage [last season], like top 25 in the NBA. So I've just got to keep that drive. I've just got to go out there and be able to play my game and not be too restricted. And I've got to be consistent. I know I can do it. I'm just looking forward to getting back to my ways offensively, and still bringing my defensive presence to the team.
Q: What do you hope to accomplish with that new mindset?
Iguodala: I've got to continue to play at a high level to be an All-Star every year. One time to me is like a one-hit wonder. My goal is to be an All-Star multiple times. That will like put a stamp on the type of player I am. But more than that, just getting deeper and deeper into the playoffs. That takes care of a lot of things.
Q: You did win a gold medal in London, so you've tasted a title. What was the best part about your trip overseas?
Iguodala: The bus rides were real funny. That was the best part of the trip. We had some crazy conversations. I always knew Carmelo [Anthony) was funny, but Carmelo was real funny. We called him Radio Raheem. He had this speaker and he had the music for pregame. He knew the vibe of the team. It was always on point. Some days it would be rap and other days it would be like old school hip-hop or old school R&B. James Harden has his own language. Him and [Russell] Westbrook have their own language. I don't know what they're talking about. Their words mean like the opposite thing.
Q: Is Brazil on your mind at all for 2016?
Iguodala: I would love to.
Q: I wanted to ask you about sacrifice. If there's one player in the league who represents that model well, it's you. You could be a 20-point scorer, but you've done a solid job buying into different team systems -- and even your numbers have gone down significantly in the prime of your career. Many guys couldn't imagine that happening, but not you. Where does that mentality come from?
Iguodala: It's definitely hard. The biggest reason why it's hard is because, especially in Philly, if you don't put up a certain number or hit a certain plateau or something like that, they say you're OK. Interesting, I had a great conversation with George Karl and he said most people talk about the big contract. Everyone wants the big contract. He said, "I had a great team in Seattle and they said the superstars were Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp. But I had rock guys. My guys, no matter what, they were rock guys." He said, "We got to the [NBA] Finals because of guys like Detlef Schrempf and Nate McMillan." He said if it weren't for them, they wouldn't even have gotten close. He said to me, "You're compensated correctly for what you do for your team." And that's all I ever wanted. Some people understand that, some people don't. That's just the way the game is. Most people don't understand that.
Q: It's got to be rewarding for you going from one great basketball mind in Doug Collins to another in George Karl.
Iguodala: Yeah, yeah. Different dynamics. I think George Karl is more of an X's and O's guy. Doug Collins is more of a connection guy. But I've seen a lot of them. I haven't been with an X's and O's guy like George Karl, so that's what I'm really going to enjoy.
Q: Does George have a fat playbook?
Iguodala: It's not even the playbook because the way the offense is set up, he doesn't want to run an offense. He's like, "I don't like calling plays. That's how we're going to play." But he said, "When we come out of timeouts or when we come out of halftime or when I see something, I'm going to draw it up." I'm really excited to see that. He's just a coach who's been to the Finals, he's had some success with his teams with Carmelo and Chauncey [Billups]. They went to the conference finals [in 2009] and lost to a great Lakers team.
Q: Overall, how's the city of Denver been embracing you so far?
Iguodala: Not a knock on any city, but Philly and Denver are kind of the opposites. Philly's a lot of culture, you get every flavor, which is great. Denver is more slow motion. It's laid back a little bit more. In Denver, there's always something. Everybody's happy, everybody's smiling, everybody's in a good mood. In Philly, sometimes it's gloomy a lot. The weather had kind of an effect on the people. In Denver, everybody's been friendly, everybody's been nice. The air is so clean. You just wake up and just [makes a hard breathing noise]. You can smell the fresh air. When you walk into practice, it's like everybody's happy, saying, "What's up, what's up." So it's been really good.
Q: Looking back, what will you cherish the most about your time in Philly?
Iguodala: Just getting drafted there, scoring my first points, going to the playoffs for the first time and definitely getting out of the first round.