Philadelphia 76ers fans like myself were expecting Andre Iguodala to return from the Olympics as a gold medal winner. With Team USA two wins from the gold, Iguodala was all set to come back to Philadelphia and use the momentum to take another step forward for the Sixers next year. However, in the back of our minds, some of us also hoped it would make him more attractive trade bait to get a bigger star next summer, if not this summer.
Those hopes came true all of a sudden on Aug. 9, as Iguodala will have to go to a new home after coming home to America. The Los Angeles Lakers not only finally landed Dwight Howard, they traded their old superstar center Andrew Bynum to the Sixers to make room - which meant the Sixers had to trade Iguodala to the Denver Nuggets to make room themselves.
The timing is certainly unique for Iguodala, who has to start planning to leave Philadelphia just as the Olympics near their climax. Of course, in an ideal world for Team USA, Iguodala would only play major minutes once the semifinals and gold medal game are well out of reach. As such, the trade can't really affect his play since he gets limited playing time for the Americans anyway.
In any case, Iguodala would still get a gold medal if everything goes as planned for the U.S. Yet right after leaving the victory podium, he would then have to officially say goodbye to the only home he's ever known in the NBA. Still, that home has regularly criticized him for not being a big enough No. 1 star - and is now focused on finally landing such a star in Bynum.
Iguodala won't have to be the first option for the Nuggets, and can more easily settle in as a supporting player for a perennial playoff team. Yet like the Sixers, the Nuggets are good enough to make the playoffs, but don't have the wiggle room to do much damage there. In fact, now that the Lakers are becoming a powerhouse again, the likes of the Nuggets have even less room to move up in the West.
In that regard, nothing has really changed for Iguodala, as he goes from one second tier winner to another. For that matter, he isn't even the first "A.I." to go from Philadelphia to Denver, after Allen Iverson got traded there first years ago. Yet the Sixers didn't have a major star to take Iverson's place back then - which made Iguodala the biggest scapegoat for not being that star.
But now Philadelphia finally has that star in Bynum for the moment, while Iguodala has been set free in the process. Although he is nearing the biggest achievement of his professional career for Team USA, he will promptly head back to America and have to start a new chapter of that career at a new home.
Robert Dougherty is a life-long Philadelphia resident and 76ers fan.
Other stories from this contributor
- Sports & Recreation
- Philadelphia 76ers
- Andre Iguodala
- Team USA
- Andrew Bynum