“He's one of those guys who will do whatever [USA coach Mike Krzyzewski] calls on him to do. That means defend, rebound or score. He really does it all. He's going to play a serious role in helping us win this gold medal."
Every Olympian who was asked — from Paul to Miami Heat forward and NBA MVP LeBron James to Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant to Oklahoma City scoring king Kevin Durant to Minnesota Timberwolves big man Kevin Love — said Iguodala, the man whose departure is considered a vital move in the Sixers' long-range improvement by a lot of fans, is a key element to the USA winning the gold at the London Olympics beginning next weekend.
It seems like a striking contradiction, but in reality, both sides are correct when you factor in the differences between what Iguodala is expected to do with the Olympic team and what he needs to do to help the Sixers rise to the next level.
Iguodala is a facilitator. He doesn't make other players better in as much as he makes things go easier for them.
On a team that features the likes of James, Bryant, Durant, Brooklyn Nets star Deron Williams and New York Knicks scorer Carmelo Anthony, the ability to make things easier for them is a highly valued skill set.
"Andre is such a good all-around player," Bryant said. "It's rare to see that in players today.
“But it's probably the scoring [as to why Iguodala is not fully appreciated in Philadelphia]. He's not so much a natural scorer. But when he has someone along with him that can put up the bigger numbers scoring wise, it accentuates his skills."
It's just what everyone in the Delaware Valley figured out a long time ago: Iguodala is Robin and not Batman.
On the Olympic team, there are a number of players ready to step into the Batman role.
Unfortunately, the Sixers haven't had a legitimate Dark Knight since Allen Iverson wore out his welcome in South Philly and had to be shipped to Denver.
Contrary to some opinions, Iguodala also makes things easier for his Sixers teammates.
But the benefits of making things easier for veteran All-Stars like James and Anthony are slightly higher than making them easier for youngsters like Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner.
With the Sixers, Iguodala is still needed to step outside of his comfort zone to be more of a leading man. Honestly, he's just not all that good at doing that.
"Maybe he's not the kind of player who should be called upon to be the No. 1 guy or take the last shot," USA Basketball director Jerry Colangelo said of Iguodala. "I don't know if he was born for that.
“But I do think he's the ultimate team player. He does all of the stuff that a lot players don't want to do. He's going to fight for a rebound, dive for loose balls and defend whoever you put him on. He is a perfect fit on this team for all of the things that he is."
After the disastrous sixth-place finish on home soil in the 2002 FIBA World Championship and the bronze-medal finish at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, USA Basketball overhauled its approach to international competitions.
Instead of a team of NBA All-Stars, USA basketball decided the better approach was to organize an All-Star team — one that had defined role players and specialists as well as starters. You know, like any normal squad.
Under the old system, Iguodala, New York Knicks defensive center Tyson Chandler and OKC sixth-man extraordinaire James Harden probably wouldn't be going to London.
But the USA learned the hard lessons in Athens and then at the 2006 FIBA World Championships when other nations trumped their starter power with more organized teams featuring players who understood roles and how to play together effectively,
Iguodala is being touted as the ultimate role player. Versatility was the universal word used to compliment him.
"He's so flexible. He's such a defender at all positions," Colangelo said. "He's such a blender. When he's on the court he causes havoc for us on the defensive end.
“Every team needs an Andre Iguodala — every team."
And if the Sixers had a Kevin Durant or a Chris Paul or a Kevin Love to go with Iguodala, Philadelphia would better understand that. n
Contact John Smallwood at email@example.com.