When the Philadelphia 76ers traded away Allen Iverson to the Denver Nuggets in 2006, “The Answer” left behind the City of Brotherly Love and essentially turned over the franchise to the new A.I. in Philly: Andre Iguodala.
Just two years into his pro career at that point, Iguodala blossomed into an NBA All-Star and Olympian as the Sixers reached the NBA postseason but were often bounced from the first round. That changed last season as Philadelphia reached the conference semifinals, only to lose to the Boston Celtics.
But there were more changes to come in the offseason.
Much like Iverson, Iguodala was Denver bound after the Sixers agreed to a four-team trade with the Los Angeles Lakers, Orlando Magic and the Nuggets. You know the deal by now: Dwight Howard to the Lakers, Orlando received Nikola Vucevic, Maurice Harkless, and a future first round draft pick to Orlando, and Philly receiving Jason Richardson and Andrew Bynum.
The Sixers now prepare to move on from the Iguodala Era.
And the same goes for Iguodala who is ready for a new life in Denver.
So what is A.I. looking forward to the most in Denver as he leaves behind the Sixers: Stability and getting his game back, Iguodala said in an interview with ESPN.com about his time in Philly.
I've never had stability as far as like coaches. I've always had a different coach, a different GM or a different key player every year.
My first year, I had Jim O'Brien as coach, my second year it changed to Mo Cheeks and we had Chris Webber, then the third year AI [Allen Iverson] got traded, and then two years after that Mo Cheeks got fired, then a year after that we had a new GM and a new coach, Eddie Jordan, then Doug Collins. It was like 12, 13 different things in eight years, so change is not hard for me.
While Iguodala is averaging 15.3 points per game over his career, last season he struggled to score the ball and posted his lowest average (12.4 ppg) since the 2005-06 season (12.3 ppg). Much of that had to do with the lockout-shortened season and head coach Doug Collins’ share-the-ball system, but now in Denver with a change of scenery getting back on the scoring track is a focus for Iguodala heading into training camp.
A reunion with point guard Andre Miller from their Philly days will hopefully trigger that production.
“For me, it's just getting my confidence back offensively. Last year, I didn't get too many attempts because I was pretty much a facilitator. I don't want to have that label stuck on me for the rest of my career, so I got back into attack mode,” Iguodala continued.
“George Karl and I talked about me getting stronger, that I've got to attack the basket. The great thing is I did shoot a high 3-point percentage [last season], like top 25 in the NBA. So I've just got to keep that drive. I've just got to go out there and be able to play my game and not be too restricted. And I've got to be consistent. I know I can do it. I'm just looking forward to getting back to my ways offensively, and still bringing my defensive presence to the team.”
Looking back at the Philadelphia-Los Angeles-Orlando trade and the two names you hear the most about are of course going to be Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynum.
But Iguodala has always been one of the more under-appreciated swingman in the game. Maybe the move from Philly to Denver is what he needs to show there is much more to his game.
The Philadelphia 76ers are moving on.
And, finally, so is Iguodala.