The Sixth Man

Having already presented a few books in this blog about more historical events, here is book that deals with the more recent past. The Sixth Man is the autobiography of Andre Iguodala, who only ended his active career in 2023. However, the book was published in 2019, so before Iguodala’s last title with the Warriors in 2022.

The Sixth Man by Andre Iguodala

As mentioned, The Sixth Man is a typical biography that proceeds chronologically. Iguodala begins with his childhood in Springfield, Illinois. He was raised by his mother and grandmother and grew up with his brother and several cousins. Iguodala’s mother used to be a basketball player herself and was 6 feet tall. This is probably where his athletic talent comes from.

His experiences with basketball as a child were interesting. He never really brags about anything in this book and writes rather modestly. But it is clear that little Andre had some good basketball IQ early on and understood the game better than his peers. He also had a strong will and tried to be the best in all areas of life, whether at school or on the basketball court. Iguodala describes how his brother Andre was as talented as he was, but didn’t have the same will.

Time in college and the beginnings in the NBA

Iguodala’s time in college with the Arizona Wildcats is covered rather quickly. He also describes at one point that the time (he played there for two years) flew by. He personally described the relationship with his coach Lute Olson as somewhat difficult. However, he also wrote that he learned a lot about basketball under Olson and became a better player as a result. Of course, his time in the NBA takes up considerably more space. He was a lottery pick in 2004 and was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers.

His assessment of his time in Philadelphia is also rather mixed. He writes about some of his teammates, especially Allen Iverson, of course. Iguodala describes Iverson as an incredible talent and great athlete who (just like Iguodala’s later teammate Stephen Curry) found many sports easy. He also has rather positive things to say about his coaches in Philadelphia. A small exception here is the end with his last Philly coach Doug Collins (who also coached Michael Jordan). At the 2012 Olympic Games, Collins told him how much he was looking forward to the next season with Iguodala, even though a trade to Denver was already more or less certain at the time. Iguodala found out about this from his teammate Jrue Holiday.

Iguodala only played one season for the Nuggets. It was a pretty good season. But unfortunately Danilo Gallinari tore his ACL shortly before the end of the regular season. As a result, the Nuggets lost in the first round to the Golden State Warriors, who were still a young and developing team at the time. But Iguodala saw a lot in this team and could already foresee the development in the future. When he became a free agent in the summer, he was eager to join the Warriors and turned down better-paid offers to do so.

Role as „The Sixth Man“ with the Warriors

In his first season in Golden State, the coach was still called Mark Jackson. Although Jackson often doesn’t enjoy a very good reputation in fan circles, Andre Iguodala only has positive things to say about him and his year with the Warriors. He knew how to get the best out of each player and focused on his players’ strengths. Nevertheless, when they lost in the playoffs Steve Kerr took over. Iguodala has a special relationship with Kerr because he also played for the Arizona Wildcats and learned the game under Lute Olson.

The next part of the book is taken up by reports from the inner workings of one of the most successful teams of all time. Interestingly, Iguodala talked about the Finals series against Cleveland in 2015, but never mentioned that he was voted Finals MVP. The following season, the Warriors set a new NBA record with 73 wins in the regular season, but Iguodala describes that not all that glittered was gold. The team gave their all in the regular season to break the record, but failed to be at their best for the playoffs. According to Iguodala, the pursuit of the record cost the team the title. In the NBA Finals, one of the most famous scenes in Finals history occurred when LeBron James blocked Iguodala with only a few minutes to go. Although the game was tied at that point, Iguodala said that he knew at that point that they would lose the game.

One of my favorite chapters is the one called “Riding Home”. Here, Iguodala describes a game day from the 2017-18 season against the Milwaukee Bucks. So he was older and the end of his career was not far away. He recounts how the day went, which bones and muscles hurt (pretty much all of them), the shootaround and the game. What thoughts and feelings go through a player’s mind before and during the game and how the team prepares for one of the 82 games of the regular season. It’s an interesting insight into the inner workings of an NBA team.

In general, what comes across well in The Sixth Man is that Andre Iguodala is a very intelligent person who thinks a lot about basketball and life itself. It is not a book in which a few facts are simply strung together. You could just read the Wikipedia page about him for that. Instead, Iguodala always describes honestly how he sees things and how he perceived some situations.

Get The Sixth Man at Amazon

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