Along with being a champion four times over, Andre Iguodala also proved he was much more than an athlete during a 19-year NBA career that he now says is officially over.
Iguodala, a four-time NBA champion with the Golden State Warriors, told Andscape that he is retiring from the NBA after 19 seasons.
“It’s just the right time,” Iguodala, 39, told Andscape in a phone interview. “Time started to get limited for me and I didn’t want to put anything in the back seat. I didn’t want to have to try to delegate time anymore. Especially with on the court, off the court with family. A lot.
“You want to play at a high level. But then family is a lot. My son is 16 and then two girls. So, [I’m] looking forward to seeing them grow up in those important years.”
Iguodala averaged 11.3 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.2 assists in 1,231 games. The former University of Arizona star was the ninth overall pick in the 2004 NBA draft. The 6-foot-6, 215-pounder made his lone NBA All-Star appearance with the Philadelphia 76ers in 2012 and also averaged a career-high 19.9 points with the franchise during the 2007-08 season.
The defensive-minded forward also was the 2015 NBA Finals MVP. He was a two-time All-NBA Defensive Team selection, making the first team in 2014 and second team in 2011. Iguodala also was a 2012 London Games gold medalist and a 2010 World Champion with USA Basketball. Iguodala also finished 39th in NBA history in total games played.
New Orleans Pelicans coach Willie Green, who played with Iguodala with the Sixers and coached him with Golden State, expressed his respect.
“He’s always been a mature young man and I’m proud to see what he’s done in his career on the floor,” Green told Andscape. “An Olympic gold medalist. A four-time NBA champion. But I’m even proud of him for who he is off the floor, [a] devoted husband and father. [There are] a ton of friends that he has in the NBA circles. But even the young guys, he would take the young guys and show ’em how to be pros …
“He was one of the best, most versatile players to ever play, can play any position and can guard any position. He really worked on his game because he wanted to be the best that he could. That is a reason why he ends up in Golden State and he’s one of the pillars of that team winning championships and becoming a dynasty. You get a guy like Andre on your team and he changes things.”
Iguodala played for the Philadelphia 76ers, the Denver Nuggets and Miami Heat. His biggest impact was made with the Warriors.
In July 2013, Iguodala turned down a five-year contract with the Nuggets to join the Warriors via sign-and-trade on a four-year, $48 million contract. That proved to be the best move of his career. He won NBA championships with the franchise in 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2022. After going to Miami, Iguodala played the final two seasons of his career with the Warriors and played in eight games last season. Warriors owner Joe Lacob said in 2019 he planned to retire Iguodala’s No. 9 jersey after Iguodala retired.
“We won four championships, that’s kind of unheard of,” Iguodala said. “There are only a handful to teams that can say that. You got the [Chicago] Bulls, the [Los Angeles] Lakers, [Boston]Celtics, us, and that’s it. No organization has been run like this. And I think it’s a testament to us believing in each other, playing the right way. The game was played beautifully and had perfect timing for me right there in my prime. And things just happen the way they were supposed to happen when they happened, and it makes you actually strengthen your faith. You just give it all the way up to someone else to say, ‘let me play to my maximum ability based on the work that I put in and the focus that what I have put into the game has paid off.’ ”
The highlight of Igoudala’s NBA career occurred during the 2015 NBA Finals when he was named MVP for his defense on Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James. James shot 38.1% from the field in that Finals when Iguodala was guarding him compared to 44% when guarded by other defenders. Iguodala also averaged 16.3 points, 4.0 assists and 5.8 rebounds in the six-game series.
“That was pretty cool,” Iguodala said. “It was funny. [Then-Warriors general manager] Bob Myers was the one that gave me the news. That was one of those moments you’ll never forget. I remember every moment when that happened. But it’s always safe to say if you just go out and do your job and what you’re supposed to do, things will happen the way they’re supposed to happen. You just got to have faith that things will work out favorably as long as you have that faith.
“You see a lot in sports like guys going out, making sure they get it, and that sometimes that gets in the way of the team success. It always does.”
Iguodala also made an impact for his NBA brethren by serving on the National Basketball Players Association executive committee from 2015 to 2023. Former NBPA president Chris Paul has credited Iguodala, who last held the position of first vice president, for helping him navigate the challenges of the NBA bubble at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, in 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic.
Iguodala also proved during his NBA career that he was much more than just a basketball player with his entrepreneurial success in technology and e-commerce. Through his firm F9 Strategies, Iguodala has invested in more than 50 companies, including Zoom, Robinhood, HIMS, Jumia Technologies and Allbirds. He is on the board of directors for Jumia Technologies, an e-commerce platform often described as the “Amazon of Africa,” and is a board adviser at the enterprise software company Zuora. Iguodala recently co-founded MOSAIC, a $200 million early stage venture capital firm where he serves as a general partner focused on enterprise, fintech, healthcare, and sports companies. MOSAIC centers diversity while focusing on financial returns and social impact.
The Illinois native has been a featured speaker at events at Harvard Business School, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Pager Duty, Airbnb and Salesforce. He joined forces with Bloomberg in 2017 to create The Players Technology Summit, an annual summit where top executives, leaders in technology, venture capital and pro athletes meet in an educational and empowering forum. Iguodala’s memoir, The Sixth Man, debuted at No. 6 on The New York Times best sellers nonfiction list. Iguodala has also joined former Warriors teammates Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson as owners of TGL San Francisco pro indoor golf team and is a part owner of the National Women’s Soccer League’s Bay FC franchise.
Iguodala talked in-depth in a Q&A with Andscape about his NBA career, his involvement in the tech industry in the San Francisco Bay Area, his time with the Warriors, becoming an NBA Finals MVP, getting his jersey retired with the Warriors, why now is the right time for retirement, and much more.
How would you reflect on your entire career? How do you view it and what you were able to accomplish?
I’ve had a couple interactions that stood out and one of them was from [former Los Angeles Lakers star] James Worthy. I was in Staples [Crypto.com Arena] last season during the playoffs. Yeah, it might’ve been the Game 6 we lost. And I was talking to James. I’ve always been a huge fan of his, appreciated his game. And he took the time to talk to me and was like, ‘Man, it’s good to connect with you. And you may not know this, but you held it down, you held down your generation. And I was like, ‘Whoa …’ to it. And when you’re in it, you don’t really see it. And then you can be jaded being on the board, knowing how business works, how money may outweigh the actual art of the game sometimes.
And as a true artist, again, there is a conflict there. But just the words that James Worthy spoke to me kind of put everything in perspective and that’s what you want to hear. And I’ve had that conversation a few times. What I’m doing in the tech space, what I’m doing off the court, how I’m carrying being an ambassador for the league. Those are the moments and that’s the praise that you should appreciate and that’s what you want. And those moments, they stand out the most to me.
Why is now the right time to retire?
I know I can still play, but the body can only take so much of what the body can take. And then just the lane that I’ve been able to open up with [business partner] Rudy [Cline-Thomas] and what we’ve been able to build off the court, I felt like it was a good time. The timing is right for that. It’s similar to when I went to the Warriors and I wanted to get into the tech space. How often can you marry the on-court opportunities where we are were winning with the off-the-court? In that market, opportunities are very rare as well.
I’ve got so many deals that we’ve been getting done over the last couple of years. We just got one to date done today and we’re superexcited about that. And that timing as a player, there are certain lanes you can’t get in as a player and I can’t be who I want to be on the court. I want to be, even though I can make an impact, but I’m more so falling in love with everything that I learned while I was playing to take advantage of it.
Did you the Warriors or another NBA team try to sign you for your 20th season?
The Warriors always left the door open. They’ve always been gracious towards me. It’s always been love with them. And then obviously, I have a spot in my heart for Steph. That’s always been my man. He’s just a phenomenal human being. But I would have loved to play with Chris Paul, too. That would’ve been fun. He and I spoke a few times and been trying to be open to whenever he needed me to help him transition on everything that goes on within the organization.
But I got some funny calls out the blue from like three teams. It was pretty funny. I got two calls around free agency from some folks that I had relationships [with]. They were with other teams I didn’t even know they were with. They reached out asking. And then at a golf tournament, I played with somebody who asked me if they would save the spot. So that’s pretty funny.
Who do you credit for you being more than just a basketball player? What was your inspiration for that?
Many individuals, close friends who I’ve watched become successful business folks. Aaron McKee’s of the world; Kevin Ollies; Michael Strahan, watching him; Grant Hill, watching him; the guys that made those transition. Rudy Cline-Thomas had the vision to making it believable. So, I mean, it’s countless individuals. I built some great relationships with some GMs, other coaches, Laron Profit, who I speak to their everyday during the NBA season. Just so many folks that continue to inspire me, continue to hold me accountable, continue to lean on me for instruction or advice, and just continue to. have that purpose every day. And it’s something about us where it’s just the nature of that never goes away.
Even when you’re done playing, you’re still looking forward to the next objective, to the next goal you can be valuable at, where you can be impactful. I don’t know. It’s just law of attraction. I’ve always been around like-minded individuals who’ve either given me confidence or given me inspiration or just helped me see where I want to go next.
Safe to say that your attraction to signing with the Warriors was also connected to being closer to the tech world in the Bay Area?
That was all a part of the plan. We knew what was out there and we just knew we had to kind kick down a door. We had to figure out a way to get in there. And so, by any means necessary. We use that phrase, but that’s really the energy we brought with it.
You made nearly $200 million as an NBA player. Have you made more money off the court?
We built the network and I built the acumen to possibly be there one day. But we’ll leave it at that because most folks, this is evaluation … People don’t understand what that means until you open up a can of worms to try to understand. So, market cap, quite possibly, but it’s not like I can go to the bank and get it tomorrow.
How have you stayed ahead of the game of what is going on in the tech industry?
We were just there in the Bay Area. We built those relationships out there and I remember having the conversations with a lot of the players in terms of how you create access not being in that space. And you’re seeing different tech hubs pop up here and there. But you’ll never have the level of talent concentrated in one area like you do in the Bay Area with all the schools that are there. Stanford, Cal, all the incubations, all the firms. Silicon Valley is a real place. Sandhill Road is a real place. It’s just stacked on top of each other.
And so, we had a competitive advantage based our location and we just try to use it and leverage us to be in a position to do so. Big things or small.
I’ve talked to Chris Paul about the NBA bubble during the pandemic numerous times and he always mentioned you as his right-hand guy. How proud are you of what you and him were able to accomplish in terms of being an architect and implement the bubble? And also from a social justice standpoint, what you guys were able to do in the bubble and what stands out to you?
I gained a real friend through that process and Chris Paul, because we were competitors and he’s a psycho competitor. He’s on that Michael Jordan level. He’ll do anything to win and it could rub people the wrong way and you may not understand. But working with him through the union, I was able to see how focused he was with everything that he did. And he took everything very seriously and he held it preciously. And the union was like a duty that he served to his utmost ability. I think others were able to see that. I approached it the same way and we knew how important it was for us to have action in the climate that we were in. And it was more than just playing basketball. And some people might’ve seen it the wrong way as like, oh, you’re going to play with all this going on. And we were trying to explain to people it’s bigger than that.
Many folks in the country were out of jobs and couldn’t create revenue for themselves and for their families. And we had this opportunity to be on the stage and play for something and take a stance for something. If we not playing, then what are we going to do? Our platform is much bigger on that court until we looked at it that way. And I think that brings a different level of appreciation for the game as well.
What do you stand for? What do you play for? It can be bigger than you. And that is the true essence of the union. The union is to serve the greater good of the players and our physical bodies, but also our mental space, our psychological space, all those things. And I think we were able to bond as a union. We never had that many players together at one time, including a lockout. So, it was a beautiful moment to see because some things happened, but we were able to overcome it and come back together and finish out with the purpose.
Most folks thought you just out there playing to get your money and go home. But you saw some sentiment that came from Black Lives Matter on the court. Now there may have been some issues with that organization, but Black Lives Matter is more than organization to us. That this statement speaks for itself. And with our league being composed of majority African Americans — even foreign players, whether it’s France, whether it’s Brazil, whether it’s Africa, players in Africa, you see what Senegal did this summer — it’s a global thing as well.”
What advice would you give to the union people going forward and what do you think about the state of the league for players going forward right now?
It’s a new generation and so we have to continue to better communicate with the younger generation. You got to take this torch. You got to carry it, you got to hold it down, you got to carry it preciously, and then you got to be prepared to hand it off to the next crop. And so, we’ve been having really good discussions about identifying the next wave of young guys who will fit perfectly in terms of their duties to the union, how we conduct business, how we handle ourselves, and then how we implement new ideas.
Because the world changes every decade it seems like. I was talking to [founder, chairman and CEO of Altimeter Capital] Brad Gerstner at our firm outing [Wednesday], and he was saying before you could go a lifetime without an invention, you can miss an invention throughout your lifetime because they just weren’t happening as fast.
But now we’re having new inventions every year, so I might live through 50 inventions. We went through crypto, we went through AI [artificial intelligence], we went through the mobile phone. We might even see different ways of powering our engines. And so, it’s so many different things. And then AI is going to invent something.
I’m saying all that to say new things will come about on how we conduct business, but we just have to be very intent on how we do it best for the 450 players or 500. I look at it as a partnership, which it is a partnership 99% of the time. But in that 1% of the time understanding you might have to get your hands dirty, get your feet dirty, and put some sweat equity in, and have to sacrifice a little bit withstanding for what we should stand for and how we do business as players. Once that business is done, you go right back to being a partner.
TGL, the new-tech driven, prime-time, team golf league, announced the formation of the latest ownership group that is acquiring the rights to TGL’s San Francisco team, and it includes you and your old Warriors teammates Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. What can you share about that?
The TGL league has started up and it is going to be a great atmosphere for Monday night prime-time sports. You only see that in football, but when football season is over, there’s really no prime-time spot. In most cities in America — East Coast, Midwest — you got Top Golf, you got Five Iron Golf, you got all these different ways to participate in the game coming out of the pandemic where golf just exploded in participation in America.
The technology is there now where we can have some fun Monday night golf with the top players in the world, starting with Rory [McIlroy] and Tiger [Woods]. And we’re starting with six teams and we just announced that we are the Bay Area-San Francisco golf team. We haven’t come up with a name yet, but myself, Klay and Steph will be heavily involved with decision-making and marketing. We’ll be active participants in the building of an organization. We we’re going be very active and I’m really looking forward to this one.
In terms of Warriors, how do you hope Warriors fans remember you and what stands out amongst your winning those four championships?
I’ve had a really good relationship with the fan base. They’ve been nothing but appreciative of me and my time there. I hear it a lot. I give Steph all the credit all the time, but just being kind of one of the first domino to fall in terms of a free agent signing there, you really didn’t have a free agent that was take less money to go to that market. We hadn’t seen that. And it was just a perfect marriage in terms of skill sets, IQ and how my game fit with those guys and being comfortable taking the back seat and sacrificing for the inevitable. So, it was just a beautiful thing.
They showed me so much love. And I’ve been in cities where the relationship has kind of been back-and-forth. But from the beginning they showed me a lot of love and respect and they understood the game of basketball and they really understood what I brought to the team. They knew my level of play and I would take a step back in what I could produce. But what I made up for in IQ and what I brought to the team, they understood that. So, I really never had to be in defense of myself or prove my worth. I think they understood that. And that’s always appreciative as an athlete in the sports world.
Warriors co-owner Joe Lacob has said publicly that he was going to retire your No. 9 jersey one day. What are your thoughts on that?
That is pretty cool. Joe is my guy. I’ll actually like Joe. Joe is in it to win it. And that’s not the case for most sports owners. So, I respect him at a high level. I’m understanding how important it is. You got to win, you got to have a good team to get certain accolades unless you’re 0.1% of a talent. I said it before in terms of the Hall of Fame. There’s certain guys that are just in a different realm all alone. But I think there is something to being a winner.
You also went to the NBA Finals with the Miami Heat in 2020. What are your memories about that?
That was a huge moment for me that goes up there in terms of one of my greatest accomplishments, just because I learned something from that culture. I’ll take a lot of that culture with me wherever I go, whether it’s on the court, off the court. I was very grateful to experience playing down in Miami.
Are you completely done with being involved with basketball?
You never close that door. It’s just something that’s just natural to me. I do it in my sleep. If I could think business, I think basketball. I’m confident in that part. I’m confident in my brain and my IQ. I was telling somebody the game is in ultraslow motion. I could see things two quarters ahead. And that’s why I have great respect for guys like [Rajon] Rondo, guys like LeBron [James] and how they see the game. And I want to translate that to off the court, but I would never shut that door just because that’s just a gift God gave me. And I don’t want to just wash it away.
But on the business side, started our firm Mosaic General Partnership, and we’re investing in early-stage startup companies, Pre-C, series A, series B, we closed our first one May 1, and so we’re full steam ahead there. Have invested in 10 companies across fintech, health tech, proptech software and sports and media properties. And so, we found some unique unlocks with tech and sports that we’re going to try to take advantage of and kind of be the first movers in that space.
And you’re going to stay in the Bay Area?
I’m in the Bay Area for sure. For the future. I just joined the UCSF Foundation Board, one of the larger hospital networks doing some of the best work. They have the Benioff Hospital in Oakland. We’re putting a ton of money into that. I don’t know if I can talk about the new hospital they plan on building, but that’s a philanthropic endeavor that I’m really excited about being a part of. Just the individuals that I’m crossing paths with and seeing how we’re truly changing lives. That’s another one that I’ll be leaning into heavily in taking some of those values and some of that knowledge into other things that I’m doing.
You’re also a part of the NWSL Bay FC Soccer group ownership. What are your thoughts on that?
I’m superexcited about it. You see the Warriors got the women’s WNBA team. But Bay FC is the National Women’s Soccer League team that I’ll be on the board of as well. In fact, I’m doing some recruiting right now, trying to get someone over. But that one where it is exciting to be in the Bay to be a female. And the sport that’s growing really, really fast, that league’s going to take off and helping build Athlete 2.0, we like to call it. And open up that tech ecosystem to the athletes and especially the women.
Then I’ll be directly involved with the Bay FC team. We have a hub of great soccer players. And then there’s a direct correlation with Division I female athlete and these high-level positions in these Fortune 500 companies. So, there’s a leadership initiative by [former META Platforms COO] Sheryl Sandberg within the team.
That one I’m really excited about, just building that network of female founders and female leaders and getting them direct access to the girls that are growing up through the grassroots program. And the more girls we have playing sports, the more D-I athletes, the more females that’d be running these companies. And that’s more diversity, more profits, more inclusivity. The world’s a better place when there’s a broader community within the company.