“When the big names from the 2008 Olympic gold-medal U.S. basketball team announced they were taking this summer off and declined to participate in the upcoming world championships, many observers saw it as a step backward for Team USA.
Andre Iguodala saw it as opportunity.
The 76ers’ swingman, who averaged 17.1 points last season, didn’t get a chance to play in the last Olympics. But if he does enough things well in the next few weeks and can help the Americans win the world championship in Turkey on Sept. 12, perhaps his Olympic dream will be realized in 2012.
“This is my third time being part of [USA Basketball] and I’ve learned the ropes,” Iguodala said yesterday as he and 18 other players took part in the first day of a 5-day minicamp on the UNLV campus. “I’m the kind of player who can adjust to the international game or the NBA.
“To me, this is a long-term process and in the back of my mind, I’m thinking about . But right now, my focus is on making this team, going to Turkey and winning a world championship.”
Iguodala’s skill set should make him an impact player for U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski. USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo said Iguodala will be able to help the team several ways.
“His experience and athleticism gives him a chance to help us,” Colangelo said. “We’re going to play a little different this time – more pressure and a faster pace – and he’s a good defender.”
Iguodala said his role is clearly defined for Team USA.
“I’m a natural defender, so I can go out and guard someone and feed off the guys and finish off the break,” he said. “It’s naturally set up for me to excel in this setting and I’m going to go out, play hard and let it all flow.”
Iguodala and agent Rob Pelinka recently met with new Sixers coach Doug Collins in Los Angeles. They talked about Collins’ philosophy and his vision for Iguodala with the Sixers. Igoudala was the first player Collins sought out for a one-on-one meeting.
“We had a really great meeting,” Iguodala said. “He’s passionate about the game. His track record shows he’s been able to come in and revamp a team that has talent but just didn’t have a chance to put it all together.
“His best players have been wing players – MJ [Michael Jordan], Scottie [Pippen], Grant Hill, Rip Hamilton – so I’m definitely looking forward to the opportunity to play for him. I’m all ears.”
Iguodala said he’s also looking forward to playing alongside rookie guard Evan Turner, the second overall pick in last month’s draft.”