Defense wins championships. That proved to be true in the Warriors' 2015 NBA Finals comeback victory, and when Andre Iguodala took home the NBA Finals MVP Award over teammate Steph Curry.
Iguodala's accolade sparked a league-wide conversation that continues nearly a decade later. In a recent appearance on the "Gil's Arena" podcast, Iguodala was asked if he feels like he deserved the award for how he stepped up in the series when it mattered most.
The 39-year-old veteran forward had an honest response and opened up about his doubts about winning the award. He shared a conversation that he had with his former Miami Heat teammate Trevor Ariza and explained how Ariza checked him when Iguodala would question his worthiness of winning Finals MVP.
"Because we're in the league for so long and you see all the nasty stuff that goes on behind closed doors in the league, you kind of lose the love of accolades," Iguodala said. "We love the game of basketball. You see what goes on in the league and sometimes it isn't even about hoop. I don't really appreciate certain things the way I should just because the other stuff weighs on it and I'm just like, 'I don't really care.' So, yeah, Steph deserved one before the one he got. I did think he deserved one. So I always say if it was mine, cool. I know the impact I had on the game, but I don't need anyone to tell me that I did.
"I'm cool with that because my whole career was based on that. I never made a First Team All-Defensive Team, I made one. My first one was in Golden State. The only reason I made the Olympic team in 2012 is because Kobe Bryant was like, 'This is the best defender in the league.' And I never made an All-Defensive First Team. So I say all that to say, I don't care. Yeah, Steph should've had mine. I don't really care. I think Steph should've had it."
Like the rest of the guys in the room, Ariza didn't agree with the words coming out of Iguodala's mouth.
Golden State Warriors
And the confidence and belief were renewed in Iguodala.
"But then I'm talking to Trevor Ariza and he's like, 'Bro, you're bugging. Don't ever say that ever again.' And once Trevor said that to me, he kind of checked me," Iguodala said. "He was like, 'Yo, we were in Houston and we knew if you played well, y'all were going to beat us.' But the average fan who argues with all of our opinions every day, they don't know what the best players in the world are saying.
"And when Trevor said that, he was like, 'Dre, I'm in Houston and we can't get past y'all because of you.' I'm like, 'Man, Steph was cooking.' He's like, "Nah, bro. If you're having a good game, we can't win.' ... So with T.A.'s conversation, I was like, 'Yeah, I know exactly what I did in that series.' So yeah, it's where it's supposed to be. At the house."
Golden State trailed the Cleveland Cavaliers two-games-to-one in their first of four straight NBA Finals matchups, and the Warriors seemed to have no answers for LeBron James even after he lost his partner-in-crime Kyrie Irving to a knee injury.
Iguodala replaced Andrew Bogut in the starting lineup as James' primary defender, which turned out to be a game-changer for the Warriors and ultimately what led them to the Finals victory.
While fans continue to discuss who deserved it, Iguodala now firmly believes it's right where it belongs.