Andre Iguodala: "I want to make an impact on both ends of the court"
You played on the select team and practiced against the U.S. Olympic team in Las Vegas. How beneficial was that experience for you?
Andre Iguodala: It was great, just playing with some of the best players in the world, getting a feel for how they approach every day. You only see them usually a couple of times a year in a game setting. But I got to see how they approach practice and the games. I got to see some of the leadership some of the guys had and it was great to get such a high level of basketball in the summer.
As a young player (who turns 24 next week) you have embraced being a leader. How difficult has that been?
AI: It’s really tough when you are so young and you have a young team and not winning as much as you like but it helps you become a better person and a better player.
Besides averaging 19 points per game and more than five rebounds and four assists, you routinely take the opponent’s top scorer on defense. Can you talk about the importance of playing both ends of the court?
AI: That is another thing I always wanted to do. I want to be one of the few guys in the league who makes an impact on both ends of the court. A guy like Ron Artest impacts on offense and defense and those guys are rare in this league and it’s something I strive to do.
How much does taking on a difficult defensive challenge each night affect your offensive game?
AI: It takes a lot of energy out of you, especially when you are hit by screens. For instance, if you are covering Tracy McGrady and Yao hits you with a screen. People don’t see that. It’s like taking a body shot in boxing. It’s about having the mental focus and being prepared each night mentally to get through it.
How difficult is it that other teams have been gearing their game plans to stop you?
AI: That is probably the hardest part. It’s also a learning experience to see how the defenses are set up. How can I adjust to it. I’ve been working on making moves and not letting the defense get set. I know if I hold the ball, they are waiting so how to adjust the pace of my game.
What part of your game have you improved on the most this year?
AI: Just reading defenses, really. They are really keying in on me and seeing how teams are setting up. There are certain spots to get the ball where it is harder for the defense to double on me.
Do you have any thoughts about earning a berth in the All-Star game?
AI: I haven’t thought about it. I just realized we are past the halfway point of the season. It goes by so fast and I’m just trying to focus on the season and how we can improve as a team.
How can the 76ers improve?
AI: Defensively we can always get better. We have to get stops when other teams score and have to get stops in transition.
AI: When you lose, the finger isn’t pointed at somebody else, it’s always pointed at you. My main thing is that I want to win. Getting the W is all that matters. If you have a bad game and you win, you can get away with it. If you lose and you have a good stat night people want to know what happened. So I am trying to be consistent.
The 76ers went 16-25 in the first half of the season. Can you see improvement in the second half?
AI: Definitely. Sam is playing well and always plays well second half of year. Thaddeus has been playing well since the West Coast trip and we look for him to get better. Jason Smith has shown he can play well. So I see a lot of players improving and the team improving.
It seemed as if earlier in the season you were trying to force the action too much and it caused your turnovers to rise. Would that be a fair assessment to make?
AI: Yes, I think so. Forcing passes, trying to force things that really weren’t there. With our type of team it took us a little while to adjust to each other from training camp. And then we had to adjust when Kyle got traded. It took us a while to do that.
You turned down a contract extension (reportedly for $57 million over five years) in October. Has that situation affected you this season?
AI: I think you think about it and people always ask you about it. As far as on the court, my mind is on the game and all that other stuff is thrown away. Once tip-off starts the only thing that matters is winning that game.
Marc Narducci covers the NBA for the Philadelphia Inquirer and is a regular contributor to HoopsHype.com
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