After coming off the bench this season, Andre Iguodala cemented what an integral role that was for the Warriors this year, by capping it off as the 2015 NBA Finals MVP.
Iguodala was announced the recipient of the Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award after the Warriors' Game 6 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers, which secured Golden State's NBA championship -- the team's first in 40 years.
"They called me young Scottie Pippen, young Penny Hardaway, young Grant Hill when I was a kid -- my game was always doing everything," Iguodala said after the game.
And the player has come to serve the team in various forms -- particularly this finals series. Iguodala, in his 11th year in the league, received seven votes for the award, versus LeBron James, who received four votes.
Finals MVP voting breakdown. None for Stephen Curry. pic.twitter.com/72WNSIhTtp
— David Vertsberger (@_Verts) June 17, 2015
The player's true strength shone in the finals series, especially in Game 4. After the Warriors trailed the Cavs 2-1 in the series, Golden State head coach Steve Kerr decided to have Iguodala start over Andrew Bogut -- his first start all season.
He played just over 39 minutes that game (more than any other playoffs or finals game this season), and scored 22 points and added eight assists. The game largely turned the course for the Warriors, who went on to win both Games 5 and 6.
Iguodala also proved essential in shutting down LeBron, who had a historic finals series of his own, and arguably kept the Cavs in the series single-handedly.
Andre Iguodala did a nice job locking down LeBron James at key points in Game 1 pic.twitter.com/lBbpbTdSBe
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 5, 2015
Throughout the Finals, Iguodala stepped up his game:
7.8 PPG, 3.3 rebounds per game
16.3 PPG, 5.8 rebounds per game
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 17, 2015
However, Iguodala's role with the Warriors -- largely that of an unsung hero -- has been building since he joined the team in 2013. As SBNation noted, the player before coming to Golden State, where he assumed a role playing off the bench, has started every single game of his career.
Kerr praised the sacrifice Iguodala made, saying the player does "everything for us," in a ESPN story published Tuesday ahead of Game 6.
"He's our best defender on LeBron. He's an incredible decision-maker. I mean, seven assists, no turnovers. He rebounds. He guards everybody," Kerr said, adding that while the player wasn't "thrilled" about coming off the bench, he took on that role and in turn "set a tone for our team from the beginning."
Upon accepting the award on Tuesday night, Iguodala acknowledged and echoed those sentiments.
"We all say God has a way for you -- a purpose for you, and this was my purpose and I accepted it," Iguodala said.
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