For the first time since a gentleman by the name of Iverson bulldogged his way to the top of the NBA scoring charts, the Philadelphia 76ers have an All-Star to call their own. And let me be the next (or first?) to say that this AI is more than deserving.
Look, we’re all aware of the clichés used to chronicle the 2011-12 Sixers’ sudden ascendance: tough defense, unselfish play, spread-the-wealth scoring, a general whatever-it-takes attitude for 48 minutes. Sometimes, however, clichés serve a purpose. And on a Sixers squad equally devoid of superstars and lush with youth and athleticism, nobody exemplifies the tried and true coachspeak quite like Iguodala, whose propensity to rack up rebounds, assists and steals as well as points has led to more wins after 26 games than anyone had expected.
We’ll leave the off-balance jump shots and critical missed free throws out of the equation, though, since, well, since I don’t want to harp on the negative.
The Sixers are currently 18-8, have a 3.5-game lead over the Celtics in the Atlantic Division and are undoubtedly the biggest surprise of the NBA season. Iguodala, for his part, is averaging 13 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists a game, in addition to stifling some of the NBA’s best shooting
guards and small forwards on a nightly basis. But really? Since when did 13-7-5 get you an All-Star nod? Well, sometimes the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
Like all NBA teams, the are playing 66 games in 120 days this season. Personally, I, as a fan becoming progressively more involved in the team, love it. Gone are the days of 2 games in a week, all but curtailing any chance of momentum and flow within a team. In this abbreviated season, however, we’re seeing Iguodala’s myriad talents on display nightly.
Not only is he the team’s best all-around player, he’s also the leader. He’s the one all the young guys—Evan Turner, Thaddeus Young, Lou Williams, Jrue Holiday, Jodie Meeks—look up to. Has he been in the league as long as Elton Brand or Tony Battie? No. But players in all sports look up to those who play similar positions, and last time I checked Brand and Battie weren’t playing airtight perimeter defense on Kobe and Carmelo.
Iggy’s ability to bring it every night—three, four, even five times in a given week—sets the tone for the rest of the squad, and for that he deserves every accolade he receives this year.