Box And One With Andre Iguodala

By Wesley Chism Jr.
Updated: March 31, 2008

PHILADELPHIA — I never thought in a million years that the Philadelphia 76ers would be in any type of conversation this season that would include the word playoffs. That being said, here we are giving them serious consideration as they are making a serious push towards the end of the season.

If the playoffs were to begin today, the Philadelphia 76ers would be in the seventh spot. “We preached to the guys all throughout training camp and during the season that all this hard work was going to payoff for them”, said Sixers head coach Maurice Cheeks.

“Our standing only comes as a surprise to outsiders but not folks within the family.”

Some of this great fortune can be contributed to the remarkable play of Andre Iguodala. I got on a plane and flew from Seattle to Philadelphia (which was about seven hours, plus another three if you include the layover in Atlanta) just to see this man play.

He didn’t disappoint anyone that showed up this night.

Let me just take a moment to say that the Wachovia Center is absolutely beautiful! They really did an awesome job putting this place together! The arena is a basketball fans dream come true!

The public relations department takes good care of all the needs of the Press but most importantly provided me with a delicious hot meal. Trust me, that doesn’t happen everywhere around the league.

During the off season Andre was offered a contract extension worth $57 million and turned it down. I asked him if he was crazy or if he was dropped on his head as a child like me? He just laughed and said “no.”

“The contract talk was only a distraction for two days in training camp and I moved on with life”, he added.The only time that I ever think about it is when you guys (media folks) bring it up. I just concentrate on the reason why I’m a Philadelphia 76er and do what is expected of me and play my best every night. “

In just his third season in the league, Andre is averaging 19.9 points, 5.4 rebounds and 4.6 assists. He has increased his scoring average all three years that he has been in the league and takes great pride in his assist category.

“Teammates are excited to play with someone that is all about winning and doesn’t concern themselves with personal stats that don’t benefit the team”, said Iguodala.

“Having an assist and taking a charge are the most important ingredients of basketball and it builds team chemistry.” I never saw this coming from Andre at least not this soon.

“I worked out hard during the summer with Luke Walton ( Arizona connection) and started learning how to become a better passer, read the defenses faster and put myself in better position to create scoring opportunities for myself or teammates.”

Andre works hard on all aspects of his game. He just doesn’t go to the gym and put up a lot of shots, it is his desire to become a complete basketball player and bring another NBA Championship to the City of Brotherly Love.

It is truly exciting watching this young man play. He is quick as lighting in the open court and Andre Miller will hit him in stride in route to the basket with another gem to add to his highlight reel.

What I appreciated most about watching Andre Iguodala play at the Wachovia Center is that the fans knew something special was about to happen before it occurred and you could hear the noise swell all around the arena.

The 76ers are taking it day by day and not focusing on the hype. “We always imagined this for ourselves and knew that we were capable of making a run and putting some wins together after some of the trades that were made.”

What separates the Sixers from the rest is that “we play hard from the first jump ball and until the last second is run off the clock and our coaching staff has got us conditioned to play with anyone.”

Andre and his teammates are focused on the mission at hand and are prepared to do whatever is necessary to extend this season for as long as they can.