Okay everyone do me a favor...Sit down and count to 10....Now take a deep breath...Now stand back up. Are we calm? Good, well then, please call off the smear campaign currently being directed at Andre Iguodala. I know last week I implied the 76ers needed to trade him in order to save money and possibly acquire some young talent, but I did not ask for his head.
This week the city, or the small contingency of Sixers fans that remain, are abuzz with what I will now refer to as "Elbowgate". The incident in question occurred during the 4th quarter of the Sixers game Friday night. With seven minutes remaining, Spencer Hawes kicked the ball out to Evan Turner who passed up a 3-pointer then proceeded to lose the ball out of bounds.
Everyone watching the game knew Turner should have shot the ball, but he hesitated and incurred the wrath of his teammates.
Hawes and pretty much everyone else in the building motioned for Turner to shoot. Turner began explaining himself to Hawes. This caught the eye of Iguadala. Then the "so-called "dramatic" event occurred.
Andre Iguodala Elbowed Evan Turner (via Foenixx)
Iggy walked past Turner giving him a bump with his elbow, clearly implying the message "Have some confidence rookie!" This incident has now been misconstrued by the majority of the Iguodala haters out there and has sent them into an uproar. Complaints of poor leadership and jealousy flooded the internet and radio waves as hater after hater voiced their displeasure with said incident.
Now I am here to tell everyone to PLEASE CALM DOWN! This kind of contact happens frequently amongst teammates in professional basketball. In the beginning of my playing career, I acquired several similar bumps if and when I would screw up. Once I became a veteran, I began dishing out a few of my own. It was not a malicious elbow intent on injuring Turner, but merely a "gut check" meant to drive a point home.
I even heard someone comparing Elbowgate to the fight between Mississippi State teammates Reynardo Sidney and Elgin Bailey...Umm what? Comparing Iggy's elbow to those two heavyweights duking it out in the middle of a crowd is like me comparing my athleticism to LeBron James. Sure we both can dunk, but clearly that is where the similarities end.
Speaking of Lebron, did anyone see the incident earlier this season when he gave Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra a similar shot? This incident had completely different circumstances. If Iguodala elbowed Doug Collins in the same way, I would probably be standing on a soapbox in Logan Square, demanding repercussions. But he did not show a blatant sign of disrespect towards his head coach, he instead instructed rookie Evan Turner to play with confidence.
In my opinion this is the opposite of poor leadership. If anything I believe this was an example of Iguodala's developing abilities as a leader.
So do I retract my article from last week? Of course not. Iguodala is the best trade bait we have right now. However, the fans need to realize how great, not only a player he is, but a teammate as well. If and when he leaves Philadelphia for greener pastures, this city will miss him. We'll miss his spectacular dunks and smothering defense. We'll miss his interactions with the media and leadership amongst the team.
Hopefully before he goes, he is able to impart on this young team some of his wisdom and experience. His career in Philadelphia may be short lived, however providing the building blocks for a successful future will cement his legacy.