Iguodala explains contrast of Heat, Warriors championship culture

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Iguodala explains contrast of Heat, Warriors championship culture originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

The last two franchises Andre Iguodala has played for in his 19-year NBA career have appeared in 12 of the last 18 NBA Finals. The Warriors have been in six of them and won four, and the Miami Heat have been in six and won three.

They never played against each other in those 12 series. What both teams have been for a sustained period now is the standard of champions, culture and championship culture – with a few fractures along the way.

Iguodala has won all four of his rings as a Warrior, but his fourth title actually was his fifth trip to the Finals. His fourth instance was as a member of the Heat, losing to the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2020 Orlando bubble, Iguodala’s first season in Miami. The 39-year-old hasn’t shied away from joining the parade of praising Heat culture, and even used the lessons he learned to help mentor Golden State’s 2022 championship team.

That’s why JJ Redick said “I know your answer, motherf–ker,” when he asked Iguodala and Evan Turner about the best cultures they have been around on the latest episode of Redick’s podcast, “The Old Man & the Three.”

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Instead, Iguodala gave his take on the contrasting ways the Warriors and Heat build championship culture and how to find balance between the two. For how much Iguodala loves and respects what Pat Riley, Erik Spoelstra and everybody else has created in Miami, he also believes players can “overthink it” and “fight things as opposed to just like, dive in.” His prime example is Duncan Robinson.

Once Iguodala embraced the Heat’s tight regiment, he saw how and why it clicked on the court and couldn’t argue Miami plays harder than any other team. There also can be side effects to that style, and Iguodala noticed how many players missed wide-open shots – including himself. He also has seen the Heat back off a little from afar.

“If Duncan missed a wide-open shot, he would think the world was about to end,” Iguodala said. “He’s like, “No, I’m out here to shoot. I can never miss.’ Now I love that mindset, but I’m like, ‘Duncan, if you miss a shot that doesn’t mean we’re going to stop passing to you.’

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“But I think there’s some correlation there.”

Robinson looked to be the latest shining example of the Heat’s prestigious culture after going from undrafted to a key part of the Heat’s 2020 championship run. The sharpshooter averaged 13.3 points over 30.5 minutes per game on 45.5-percent shooting and 42.7 percent on 3-pointers between the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons. Robinson signed a five-year, $90 million contract in the summer of 2021 but has seen his play and role regress ever since.

The former fairytale story turned into 42 games played last season and Robinson averaged 6.4 points over 16.5 minutes per game, shooting 37.1 percent from the field and 32.8 percent beyond the arc.

Then, there’s the Warriors and the much different approach Iguodala had to take as a leader.

“On the other side of it, sometimes with the Warriors coming into halftime in the locker room I’d be like, ‘Yo, will y’all tighten up please,” Iguodala said. “We got our total-game turnovers at halftime. We always had a turnover problem. We were last in the league last year in turnovers. We turned the ball over the second-most in the league.

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“It’s like, ‘Yo man, stop giving the other team the ball and the game would be over.’ So now I got to do the reverse, like, ‘Lock in!’ At one place it’s ‘Relax, we worked hard, we’re good.’ But on the other side it’s like, ‘We know we’re going to win, but c’mon – let’s lock in.’ We had to have those conversations a lot.”

The Warriors in their 2022 championship season also finished the regular season turning the ball over the second-most in the NBA. They also made the third-most 3-pointers per game, had the fifth-best 3-point percentage and ranked fifth in assists per game. Equally as important, that championship team allowed the third-fewest points per game and were called for the third-fewest fouls.

Both styles of creating the right culture for the Warriors and Heat have been needed to regularly contend. Both might have needed a tweak or two.

“That balance is … man,” Iguodala said, trailing off for the rest of us to interpret.

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