Which former Sixers player to cheer for in NBA Finals: Sheldon Washington
Quick history question: how many people know each one of the Sixers draft picks from 1997 to 2004? Still puzzled? Let’s go down the list:
- 1997: Keith Van Horn
- 1998: Larry Hughes
- 1999: Todd McColluch
- 2000: Speedy Claxton
- 2001: Samuel Dalembert
- 2002: Jiri Welsch
- 2003: Paccelis Morlende
Not a very good draft history at all by the then Sixers front office regime lead by Pat Croce, Billy King, Larry Brown, and company. As a 76ers fan, I was always left puzzled by the draft picks when so much talent was on the board.
Still to this day, while Larry Brown was a phenomenal coach, I truly believe that he caused the offense to sputter throughout the prime years of Allen Iverson by not being willing to open it up more to further exploit Iverson’s skill set. Choosing rather to stock the roster with journeymen and names that didn’t exist in any other NBA locker room (Matt Harpring anyone? Yeah, exactly).
Summer of 2004 comes along. Philadelphia had one of its worst seasons since the departure of Larry Brown. Randy Ayers is fired. Chris Ford didn’t do any better. The Sixers are left with the ninth pick in the draft. It’s clear that this team needs some youth. The league is becoming more athletic by the year and the 76ers have next to none of that on their roster.
Enter Andre Iguodala. A young high motor wing out of Arizona who was the most athletic player in that year’s draft class. High intelligence on both ends of the court, can run the floor on the fast break, questionable jumper (and still is), but does everything else above average. Exactly what the Sixers needed.
From day one, Iguodala proved his worth and then some for the 76ers. He ended up playing eight seasons for the Sixers, averaging 15.2 points per game, including a career-high 19.9 points per game in the 2007-2008 season. He made one All-Star Game and led Philly to an upset of the number one seeded Chicago Bulls in 2012 and came within one game of reaching the East Finals before falling to Boston in seven.
Safe to say that Andre Iguodala was everything that Philadelphia needed. Unfortunately, Philly showed that they didn’t need him.
The fans grew weary of the Swiss army knife style that Iguodala favors on the floor. They’ve spent ten-plus years watching Allen Iverson drop 40 a night before he was traded in 2006. There was a hangover on the Philadelphia fanbase, and the new A.I. was supposed to get them drunk again.
That wasn’t his game though. It wasn’t until he left in free agency that we got a chance to appreciate the player that Iguodala was.
Sadly, we had to watch his basketball genius on display with the Golden State Warriors, resulting in three championships, seven Finals appearances, a Finals MVP, and possibly another title should Golden State beat Boston this year.
I’m rooting for Andre Iguodala because he was unappreciated here in Philadelphia. We treated him like he was supposed to be Allen instead of allowing him to be Andre. We didn’t give him the chance to grow as a player. Instead, we ran him out of Philly like so many players before him, and after him. He deserved better from us. And now, we’re watching him do better, while we’re still trying to get past the second round.
Andre Iguodala has had a stellar career. Sometimes, I wish it was still on South Broad St.