How Andre Iguodala will help the Warriors keep their edge

The nearly 14-hour flight caused some on the Warriors to feel bored, as they wondered how to spend their time on an overseas trip to China. It also made some feel jet lagged once they landed, as they struggled with the 15-hour time difference from back home.

For Warriors reserve forward Andre Iguodala, though, he spent his time productively as he mixed in both sleep and reading books. Iguodala did not just do those things to pass the time. They also have a strong purpose in his training regimen.

“I try to do it because it’s going to benefit not only my basketball career, but my life and
balance,” said Iguodala, who at 33 is entering his 14th NBA season. “There is a lot that goes on that can weigh on your brain and shorten guys’ careers. So you got to stay sharp.”

Staying sharp marks the central theme surrounding the Warriors’ hopes to win back-to-back NBA titles. It might seem like a foregone conclusion Golden State will win its third championship in the past four seasons. To guard against complacency, though, Warriors coach Steve Kerr mostly stressed to his players about keeping their “edge.”

What responsibility does Iguodala have in ensuring that happens?

“That’s a good question,” Kerr said. “I’m not sure Andre’s ever going to be the guy to speak up. But he can keep that edge for us with his defense. He’ll say something every once in a while. But with Andre, it’s more about making the right play over and over again.”

To make that right play over and over again, Iguodala said he has stayed disciplined with exercises that do not require having a basketball in his hands. He has stayed adamant about receiving a good night’s sleep, mindful that it helps with his recovery. He also has remained a committed follower of the written word.

“I try to read as many books as possible. I don’t like giving people my secrets. I think that’s the key, too,” Iguodala said. “I think the key is I don’t want to be on the news. I don’t like doing podcasts that often. So I try to be as normal as possible.”

No one on the Warriors views Iguodala as normal, though. Those within the team and in NBA circles consider Iguodala unique in various ways. They have praised Iguodala’s willingness to accept a bench role in the past three seasons that coincided with a Finals MVP award in 2015. Warriors assistant coach Mike Brown pinned Iguodala’s offensive and defensive versatility as the team’s X factor that ensured winning the 2017 NBA championship. Iguodala’s teammates praised him for inspiring them with his disciplined regimen, while making them laugh with his quirky sense of humor.

“I’m grateful I get to play with him,” Warriors forward Kevin Durant said. “He’s always preaching perfection, even though it’s impossible. It’s good to have that standard. He preaches that every single day and we follow.”

That explains why Durant took about a $9.5 million payout last summer when he agreed to a two-year deal worth about $25 million annually. That helped the Warriors re-sign Iguodala to a three- year, $48 million deal.

“It wasn’t that tough. It was easy,” Iguodala said of free agency after also considering Houston, San Antonio, Sacramento and the Los Angeles Lakers. “It went pretty quick. You plan ahead and you have your way you want to go about doing things and you want to execute those things for a game plan. You come out with that outcome you wanted, and it was good.”

While Iguodala said he received “the majority of things” he wanted in free agency, he has managed to accomplish the majority of his own goals because of his training habits.

“I try to pick his brain and see what he does with what he eats and how he lifts,” Warriors guard Klay Thompson said. “He does it the best I’ve ever seen. So I try to do what he does.”

The Warriors have praised Iguodala for sharing his wisdom when teammates ask. But he hardly wants to share many details publicly about his routine, which includes yoga sessions and cryotherapy.

Iguodala mostly kept his book list secret, too. Iguodala only shared that he currently is reading Tim Marshall’s “Prisoners of Geography,” in order to broaden his perspective on world history.

“Everything that is going on in the world as far as religions and geography is based on where you’re located on a map and how countries were set up,” Iguodala explained. “Those countries didn’t say they were a country. They were a region and a certain group of humans decided to draw the lines so they can come in and take over.”

Those reading habits match the Warriors’ strong interest in social activism. They have often criticized President Donald Trump’s divisive rhetoric. After mulling over a White House invitation to celebrate the Warriors’ 2017 NBA championship, Trump withdrew the invitation before the Warriors could formally decline it. Yet, the Warriors have followed the NBA’s stance in standing for the national anthem instead of kneeling as NFL players have done to protest racial ineqality.

“Our platform is a little different,” Iguodala said. “We can take certain avenues and angles and we can voice our opinions in a certain way to where that’s our way of doing it. I’m not going to say it’s a right or wrong thing to do. I support all my fellow athletes when they are making a gesture for equality. I think that gets lost in translation. People don’t understand what it is that they’re making a gesture about.”

The Warriors and Iguodala understand each other, though. That starts with what his role entails in helping the Warriors maintain their edge.

“I’m trying to make sure everyone else is in a comfort zone and is confident,” Iguodala said. “But I got to take care of myself as well. You have to find the right balance.”

To achieve that right balance, Iguodala pledges to stay diligent with his training regimen and reading habits. He also vows to stay disciplined in keeping those details to himself.

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