Maybe Stephen Curry was the Finals MVP. Somehow, despite Steph claiming the regular season MVP, there wasn’t much of a fuss about him being passed over for the Bill Russell Finals MVP in June. In fact, he didn’t get a single vote, with LeBron winning four — as he should — and Finals MVP Andre Iguodala winning seven of the 11 ballots.
All those — cough, we hope Julia Kristeva and Bracha Ettinger are paying attention, cough — men voted for fine candidates, even if we can’t help but think LeBron and Iggy fit an easier narrative than Curry might have after his opening to the series.
Here’s what the masses thought, or at least the masses who vote for Sportscaster polls on the Internet (as flawed a sample size as any):
At least some voters agreed with Jack. Stephen Curry really was a deserving Finals MVP. He came alive in Game 5 to help his team secure a 3-2 advantage, which is usually a death knell for the team who falls behind (sorry, 2013 Spurs). But for this Warriors team, Iguodala’s MVP is the maraschino cherry on top of their self-sacrificing season.
Andre’s NBA journey to the top of the mountain is like a bible parable, which makes sense because Iggy, Steph and most of the Dubs roster attends service every Sunday. (So did former coach Mark Jackson, who is a licensed minister, but we’re not sure he gave many sermons on kindness.)
With that in mind, rather than skim much of the 1,000-year-old game of telephone that is the holy scriptures to find a sensible story about selflessness, let’s just go over what Andre Iguodala had to stomach to get to his Finals MVP. It’s a microcosm for this entire Warriors team. It’s a metaphor for team sports. It’s why basketball purists silently high-fived when LeBron’s one-man wrecking crew was eventually waylaid for the second year in a row.
Some might call Iggy, the New [Scottie] Pippen, but Pip never had to come off the bench. In fact, before this season, Andre Iguodala had played 738 games over a 10-year career. He had started 738 of those games. He had made all-star teams (2012); he had been the best player on multiple playoff teams (2008, 2009, 2011, 2012 Sixers); he has been named All-Defensive Second Team (2011) and First Team (2014); he was — and is — considered by many as one of the most underrated overall players in the entire league.
He can rebound, traverse the entire court and finish with athleticism. The former Arizona Wildcat can dish the assist off a pocket pass in the high screen and roll, or thread the needle if the defense attempts to collapse on one his pump-fake drives from the arc. He’s improved his three-point shooting even as his troubles from the stripe bubbled to the surface in these Finals. He plays LeBron as well as anyone, even Kawhi Leonard.
Most importantly for this Warriors team, he’s a veteran who can handle the rock on the second unit, and calm things down when Steph, Klay, Leandro Barbosa and Shaun Livingston are getting a little too loose with the ball. That can happen with those four ball handlers more than most Finals-winning teams.
It’s no surprise
Steve Kerr’s, née Nick U’Ren’s idea to implement Iggy in place of Andrew Bogut to start Game 4 was the watershed that led to tomorrow’s parade in the Bay. It’s a far cry from the Iggy storyline in training camp last year, but so is Golden State’s Finals victory.
There were rumblings Kerr would start Harrison Barnes over Iguodala as early as August last year. It became more of a reality when that’s what Kerr did in preseason. But the five-time champion as a player was comfortable — even in his first head coaching gig — enough to relegate two former all-stars to the bench, while making sure to both player knew he was a self-proclaimed idiot. So Iguodala led the second unit while mixing and matching with the starters.
The end result of that move, and many other examples of sacrifice, with Iguodala at the forefront? The Dubs rattled off 67 regular seasons wins and an NBA title.
Stephen Curry is the MVP of the entire league. He’s a fully loaded nuclear warhead who can explode at any second; he’s a Winston Churchill soliloquy on war; he’s basketball dynamite in a scrawny, 6-3, 180-pound frame.
But Iggy was Golden State’s Finals MVP. Anyone else, even Steph, would have ignored all that led up to this magical June in the Bay.