Any contest played in front of 10,000-plus paying and/or screaming fans will feel like an event, but it's safe to say that nationally televised NBA games have something extra. The players are seen not just by their teams' fans, but the national basketball community (if not the world). It's an exciting time to show your ability in front of a bigger audience, and many players love getting that opportunity.
One veteran, however, does not feel that way. According to Golden State Warriors wing Andre Iguodala, nationally televised games can promote bad habits and a lack of unity. From Rusty Simmons for SFGate.com (via SLAM):
“I hate (national) TV games,” the Warriors’ starting small forward said after Monday’s shootaround. “TV games can play tricks on you. You want to play at a high level every night, but you can kind of see how some guys may get up a little bit more for TV games, and that might mess with the flow. Guys want to show the world what they can do, and it should be more than that.
“You should want to play well as a unit on national TV. When you have young guys, guys might shoot a couple of extra shots that they normally don’t shoot, so TV games are dangerous. They can be trick games.”
Iguodala's logic makes some sense, in that great performances in national games do bring players extra attention. With those incentives in place, it's possible that players would exert themselves a little more or look for their own glory. We have seen several players perform better than usual in these moments — most notably Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo — although it's hard to say that their efforts hurt the team.
On the other hand, it's somewhat confrontational to suggest these things occur as a member of a team with a franchise-record 17 national TV games on their schedule this season. Essentially, Iguodala is telling his teammates to avoid this sort of behavior, to transcend the attraction of the spotlight and focus on the same team concepts that inform normal day-to-day operations. He's not calling out anyone specifically for not achieving this goal, but after several national games already this season the comments serve as a suggestion that such a thing could have happened in the past.
It's likely that Iguodala, with his status as a trusted veteran who does various little things and dirty work to help the Warriors win, is one of the few players (if not the only player) on the roster who could get away with saying something like this without upsetting anyone. It's a masterful bit of inference and implication, a warning that doesn't really blame anyone for specific mistakes. When people praise veterans for keeping the locker room in check, they're referring to these kinds of statements. This knowledge and tact can only come with experience.
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