SLAMonline Top 50: Andre Iguodala, no. 32

by September 20, 2008

by Chris O’Leary

The day went down like cod liver oil: December 19, 2006. Andre Miller, Joe Smith and two first rounders leaving Denver, destined to Philly for Ivan McFarlin and a guy named Allen Iverson.

The 76ers traded the face of the franchise, and were left to try and save face, written-off by many to be the worst of a weak Eastern Conference. Left amid the rubble of the move was our man, no. 32 on this list, Andre Iguodala.

At the time, Iguodala’s nickname, The Other AI, switched from a lovingly assigned moniker to a near insult — a reflection of the anticipation on how dilapidated the franchise was about to become.

The Other AI had other plans for the franchise he inherited, though. Sure, one guy can’t get it done on his own, but Iggy stepped up and made the Sixers his team. His scoring average jumped from 12.3 points per in 2005–06 to 18.2 in ’06–07 and finally to 19.9 last year. The Sixers’ wins increased too. When they were picked to fall to the bottom of the league’s standings, Philly managed 35 wins in 06–07 and then won 40 games last year, giving the Pistons a scare in the first round.

True, his playoff performance (13.2 points 33 percent FG and 14 percent from three) wasn’t the stuff of the original AI, but dude’s just 24-years-old. He’ll get back there and he’ll succeed…unless Tayshaun Prince guards him again.

All things considered — the team’s survival of the Iverson trade, Iggy’s continually improving play and the sniff at playoff success the team got this year — when it came time to pay the piper, you’d think that Iguodala’s bank account would have swelled on July 1.

That’s where the next difference between Iverson and The Other AI would come into play. While the Sixers let Ivy’s contract situation last about three minutes, Iggy’s dip into the waters of free agency appeared to have him stranded at sea. In the end, he got what he wanted (six years, $80 million), but you could hear the exasperation in his voice when he talked about the subject through the summer.

The man’s got 80 million reasons not to hold a grudge and with Elton Brand in the mix this season, the Sixers and Iguodala stand a good chance of getting their shot at redemption in the playoffs. Should that day come, the date will go down like Tattinger and maybe Iguodala can lose the first two-thirds of his nickname.

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