Marcus Hayes: Iguodala tossing bombs like McNabb

Posted: April 05, 2012

ANDRE IGUODALA and Donovan McNabb are friends.

They share roots from Chicago. They share burdens in Philadelphia.

This week, thanks to his comments in Sports Illustrated, No. 9 took another step toward the ignominy carried by No. 5.

Iguodala chides the fans, disses a current teammate and rips the original A.I. Iguodala isn't wrong. And he isn't sorry.

"I was serious," Iguodala said.

It's almost as if he knows he has nothing to lose in Philadelphia, so he doesn't care what he says.

"You kind of said it," he said Wednesday after the Sixers got crushed by the Raptors. "The main thing is the perception of me in the locker room by my teammates."

Then again, Iguodala used teammate Lou Williams as an example of an NBA scourge: a strong scorer who plays indifferent defense. Regrettable? Hardly.

"I would rather use my teammate than somebody else," Iguodala explained. "I've told him personally that he could be a great defender."

Of course, he could have used no one as an example. But Iguodala just doesn't care.

The Sixers' locker room was closed for an inordinately long time after Wednesday night's game. When it opened, Williams was gone.

Iguodala was there, gamely facing the music that he himself composed. His defiance recalled McNabb in McNabb's finest, saddest moments.

Told this, Iguodala shrugged.

"I know Donovan. Donovan said what he felt. He said what he thought was right," Iguodala said. "Donovan's a smart guy."

Smart, like Iguodala. Brazen, like Iguodala. They are cut from the same cloth.

Like McNabb, Iguodala avoids vice. Like McNabb, Iguodala plays hard. Like McNabb, Iguodala plays hurt.

Iguodala fights chronic knee tendinitis. For the first half last night he wore protective glasses after his left eye was nearly gouged out Tuesday at Miami. It remained a bloody, blurry mess, but he played a game-high 36 minutes.

Like McNabb, Iguodala is fundamentally sound. At his best, McNabb's hallmark was avoiding interceptions, a quarterback's first responsibility.

At his best, Iguodala rebounds like a hellion; is as generous as a New York liberal; and defends like a maniac, always against the best wing player the opposition has to offer. Guarding incendiary Raptors swingman DeMar DeRozan, Iguodala swallowed him whole.

And, like McNabb, Iguodala tells the truth.

Of course, in his current home city, none of those traits makes Iguodala particularly appealing.

In Philadelphia, fans like hard-drinking gamblers with arrest histories who don't show up for practice and who shoot less than 43 percent from the field. That's the guy who gets the love.

That's former teammate Allen Iverson.

As with most issues surrounding Iguodala, the context of the controversy diverges from the effect. The story in question celebrates the Sixers' deliciously selfless style of play, designed by second-year coach Doug Collins, implemented best by Iguodala, Collins' best player.

Except . . . well, Iggy just can't help himself. A few weeks ago in Memphis, Iguodala told SI senior writer Lee Jenkins:

"In Philly, it's not about who you are, it's about what you do for us. You could be the worst person in the world, but if you score a lot of points or win a championship, you can murder somebody."

"It makes no sense to me why so many good scorers can't defend . . . Like Lou Williams. He's one of the toughest guys to guard in the league, but he can't guard anybody. I don't get that."

Iguodala also says that some of the league's superstars are "attention whores" with incomplete games. He paints Iverson - a partying ne'er-do-well - as a good teammate . . . "Ninety percent of the time."

Iguodala joined the Sixers in 2004, three seasons after the Sixers went to the NBA Finals having surrounded Iverson with a half-dozen defenders and rebounders who deferred to Iverson's exciting, inefficient brand of street ball. When the Sixers finally excised Iverson from their franchise, Iguodala stood as the best remaining player.

It was a curse. Iguodala never developed the skills to score 20 points a night. So, in Philly, where value equals tangible production, Iguodala is seen as a failed star.

For the past 5 1/2 seasons, misinformation and unrealistic expectations cast the Sixers' best player as an underachiever.

Misinformation: Iguodala signed a max contract.

He never did. Six years for $80 million in 2008 is not a max deal.

Unreal expectation: Against the best defenders, Iguodala should be able to create his own shot, especially late.

Like most players, he cannot.

Iguodala led the Sixers to the playoffs in two out of the past three seasons. Iguodala took the Sixers to the top of the Atlantic Division and made the All-Star team this year.

Somehow, that means almost nothing.

Somehow, neither do McNabb's six Pro Bowl berths or his nine playoff wins.

Sigh. And now, this.

Remember how McNabb occasionally would take a backhanded shot at a teammate - especially his receivers? Well, pity poor Williams.

Sweet Lou might defend worse than a court-appointed lawyer, but he leads the team in scoring; the guy who carries the Sixers in the fourth quarter. He's the guy Iguodala has not become.

Iverson might be a despicable person, but he made big shots, flashy shots. Iguodala might flush a monster dunk or deal a no-look, but he never will get a standing ovation at the Wells Fargo Center for making LeBron go left and pull up.

He will be even less appreciated for his candor in SI.

Not that he cares. You know, Iguodala should go all the way. He wears No. 9.

He should switch to No. 5.


Contact Marcus Hayes at hayesm@phillynews.com

 

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