Deal with It: Andre Iguodala Is a Hall of Famer

Grant Hughes@@gt_hughesNational NBA Featured ColumnistJune 5, 2019

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MARCH 29: Andre Iguodala #9 of the Golden State Warriors looks on before the game against the Minnesota Timberwolves on March 29, 2019 at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

If you don't think Andre Iguodala's numbers are good enough to land him in the Hall of Fame, you're missing the point twice over.

First, his numbers are sufficient for induction.

Through 15 seasons, he's amassed 13,456 points, 5,631 rebounds, 4,821 assists, 1,663 steals and 552 blocks. Seven other players can lay claim to those five-category totals in their careers: Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Karl Malone, Kevin Garnett, Scottie Pippen and Clyde Drexler.

Of those seven players, all of them pantheon-level all-time greats, only Jordan, Bryant and James also match Iguodala's awards haul of an Olympic gold medal, three championship rings, a Finals MVP and an All-Defensive selection.

This isn't some statistical cherry-picking exercise. It's a very simple look at the five statistical inputs even the most analytics-averse crowd can accept as meaningful—with awards and titles thrown in to satisfy the "ringzzz" crowd.

Second (and this will seem immediately contradictory), those numbers and awards are secondary to the real reason Iguodala belongs in the Hall of Fame.


Where Analogies Fail

He's been called the connective tissue, the unsung hero and one of the true leaders of the league's greatest modern dynasty. Somehow, those disparate descriptors are accurate and insufficient at the same time.

Yes, his intellect and versatility bind the Golden State Warriors together like connective tissue, but Iguodala's impact often feels more like that of a vital organ. He's the guy head coach Steve Kerr slots into the starting lineup when the Warriors feel truly threatened in playoff series.

He's the guy who, while always chipping in on the margins, has a knack for contributing more conventional help when nobody else can. In this postseason alone, he drilled five of eight threes to eliminate the Houston Rockets and buried a dagger triple to ice Game 2 of the Finals against the Toronto Raptors. Not bad for a player opponents generally dare to shoot. 

SportsCenter @SportsCenter

The Raptors left Andre Iguodala open ... and Iggy made 'em pay 👌 (📍 @NissanUSA) https://t.co/glOlxAs8oS

Sure, his defensive contributions don't garner the same attention as a 30-point scorer. But it's hard for Iguodala's shutdown act to be truly "unsung" because of how conspicuously he performs it. That Finals MVP in 2015 came largely because he made life difficult for LeBron James, and there's rarely a question as to who'll match up with the opponent's most dangerous perimeter threat.

He's also branded his defense with such style and flair (nobody is better at the high-risk strip) that his exploits on that end often get the same highlight treatment as a Stephen Curry 30-footer.

Golden State Warriors @warriors

“Elite, all-time defender.” 👏 @andre https://t.co/D5xQ98Cv2r

And yes, Iguodala is among the Warriors' best leaders. But it was his willingness to become more of a follower, sacrificing a starting role years ago, that better defines his worth.

You have to get flat-out fantastical to come up with a comparison that encompasses everything Iguodala provides. He's basically a bonding agent that fills a team's cracks, draws disparate parts together and turns vulnerabilities into strengths. He makes fissures into fortifications—only he's also malleable enough to stretch and flex along with the changing needs of the pieces he's holding together.

He morphs as needed, without seeming to strain.

Instead of being this weird, sentient mortar we've described, Iguodala could instead be a pillar. He was an All-Star with the Philadelphia 76ers, and there's little doubt he could have far gaudier numbers if that were a priority. It's hard to say which is more incredible: that Iguodala is able to bind together a team full of historically great stars, or that he chose to do so in the first place.


The Perfect Candidate

Unlike other professional leagues that have their own Halls of Fame devoted specifically to NFL or MLB greats, the NBA funnels its all-timers into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Players, coaches and contributors from the professional, collegiate and international ranks are eligible. This is a departure from the way other leagues operate. It's a celebration of the game itself and what (or who) makes it great.

Viewed that way, Iguodala's case to belong gets stronger still.

Basketball is a uniquely contradictory sport in which individuals can only achieve greatness with sacrifice and selflessness. It demands both aggression and reserve, it rewards aesthetic grace and rugged force. Ego is necessary to survive, but too much of it is fatal.

We should think of the Basketball Hall of Fame as a place that pays homage to the game's core principles and, by extension, to the people that best embody them.

Who better to choose, then, than Iguodala, a player who gave up stardom for the greater good and devoted his career to facilitating the success of teammates? Who better to honor than a player whose greatest contributions mean most and get noticed least?

If Iguodala isn't a Hall of Famer, if he isn't the perfect representation of the qualities and achievements we should honor in basketball, then what's the point of having a Hall at all?


Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference unless otherwise specified.