An N.B.A. Veteran Turns Knowledge Into Wins, On and Off the Court docket

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An N.B.A. Veteran Turns Wisdom Into Wins, On and Off the Court

Andre Iguodala’s family members were reluctant to take part in card games.

After all, he’s the father who used a casual family game night from Uno to refer to Sun Tzu’s military teachings in “The Art of War”.

“I know the color of the hand,” said Miami Heat veteran Iguodala, recalling a recent game. “I know what color it is in the hand. I know which card she’s about to drop. “

He then told his 13-year-old son Andre II that his cutthroat mentality had little to do with winning.

“I’ve learned to understand my surroundings,” said Iguodala. “I taught him that and I’m trying to teach him. “When you see me play, you see how I play and know your opponent.” It’s like “The Art of War” and gives it a few tactics to see life in a certain way where you are extremely vigilant and try to use those things to your advantage. Data is the key. “

This philosophy was vital to the 36 year old Iguodala. Players his age can only make it this far by counteracting the loss of young legs with the wisdom of miles.

“There is not enough knowledge,” said Iguodala.

He plays like he’s already seen a sequence that came in with a quick, solid ball kick to defend or delivered a pass before a teammate stepped into the previously unoccupied room. These tendencies were learned through lifelong study of the game.

He credits growing up for hours a day, watching movies as a young player, and getting up close and personal with the work of the league’s defensive stalwarts from that era, players like Scottie Pippen, Bruce Bowen and Metta World Peace.

“From there, you just save the information and learn the league’s trends,” said Iguodala. “Most teams play exactly the same games so you know where the ball is going before it gets there.”

The mindset extends beyond the basketball court to entrepreneurial ventures in technology and e-commerce. He began exploring these worlds before his 2013 deal with the Golden State Warriors cemented his connection with Silicon Valley.

“The people who follow tech all know data is king and we all know how important data is,” said Iguodala. “And not just the meaning of data, but how to use it and how to use it to grow and build your business.”

As that year came, all the data on the basketball page indicated that Iguodala would be out of the NBA postseason for the first time in a long time.

The Warriors swapped him for the Memphis Grizzlies in the final off-season after playing in five consecutive NBA finals and receiving the 2015 Final’s Most Valuable Player Award. The deal resulted in a standoff in which Iguodala and Memphis agreed that he would not report to the organization when the Grizzlies found a future home for him.

For a while, Iguodala made more appearances at the corporate software company Zuora, where he serves as a board advisor, than on any NBA radar.

“Many athletes who do this stay on what is known as the consumer side, the well-known brands Apple and Instagram,” said Tien Tzuo, executive director of Zuora. “I work more in a business application area, business software. It’s not that well known. And he just showed an incredibly strong interest in it. It is not something that a layperson could turn to. “

The Heat acquired Iguodala in a three-team deal in February, and when he got back on his feet, the coronavirus pandemic put the season on hold indefinitely.

Iguodala, the first vice president of the National Basketball Players Association, helped coordinate the restart of the season in a bubble environment at Walt Disney World near Orlando, Florida. He was working on logs for a return and telephoning affected players.

Some expressed hesitation, fearful that resuming the game would detract from demands for social justice after police killed George Floyd in Minnesota.

The return of the NBA included the phrase Black Lives Matter near the courtyard, and many players wore league-approved messages on the back of their shirts.

“You can see that the sports leagues are more of an attitude,” said Iguodala, who chose to have “Group Economics” on the back of his shirt instead of his last name. Iguodala added that for black-majority leagues like the NBA, “I think there is a moral compass there. And so you have to take an attitude. And it’s not really a political stance – it’s a human stance. “

Then, in August, Iguodala became one of the loudest players during a series of meetings after police shot Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

The players took a hiatus from playoff games until the league’s franchisees agreed to certain commitments, including finding ways to give underrepresented communities access to voting.

“How to get so many African American athletes of that wealth to come out stronger as a whole, as a union, was a beautiful thing regardless of what people thought,” Iguodala said. “Just seeing that we are all able to have a dialogue, whether we agreed or not, that was huge.”

Iguodala ended the season in its sixth straight final, with Miami losing six games to the Lakers.

“The bubble was the perfect environment for us because it trains the guys mentally to face any challenge,” said Iguodala. “We were just ready for it and made the most of it.”

Iguodala also makes the most of its extrajudicial activities. He was an early investor in Zoom, the platform on which he conducted the interview for this article. He joined Comcast Ventures’ Catalyst Fund as a venture partner.

Its aim is to further educate minorities and marginalized communities, to create access to them and to invest in them. In other words, back up the message he wore on the back of his jersey.

“Professional athletes have too much downtime,” said Iguodala. “That’s how they get into trouble. What I was able to do is take that time and find something that is fit for purpose, and it’s a passion, something that I really enjoy, and not only monetize it, but also take my cohorts into the room and to help them learn as well. “

Iguodala and Stephen Curry partnered with Bloomberg LP in 2017 to create the annual Players Technology Summit, a forum to connect athletes with technology and venture capitalism leaders.

“People don’t know that potential athletes need to learn because they’ve been professionals in this one discipline for so long,” said Rudy-Cline Thomas, founder of the venture capital firm Mastry and Iguodala’s longtime business partner. “The potential to learn something outside of that is extremely high.”

As Iguodala’s basketball career ends “sooner rather than later,” he said, he will be able to focus on other things – he wants to make sure other players see their worth on and off the pitch.

“We always talk about the physical and mental health of the players, but at the end of the day, dollars are number one and how much we can bring in,” said Iguodala.

Iguodala pointed to the recent sale of the Utah Jazz to Ryan Smith, CEO of Qualtrics, for $ 1.66 billion. The franchise’s previous sale was $ 8 million in 1985 when auto dealer Larry H. Miller bought 50 percent. He later bought the rest of the franchise for $ 14 million.

“Has any player in the history of playing for the jazz organization – John Stockton, Karl Malone – benefited from this appreciation?” Said Iguodala. “Did any of them have skin in the game? No.”

Only 50 days separated the end of the NBA finals from the start of training camp last week. The NBA suffered a significant financial loss if they waited until the next calendar year.

“I think the players are realizing that we need to stand a little tighter in our negotiations when it comes to who bears the brunt of the risk if we get into these difficult situations,” said Iguodala. “They are telling us to put our bodies on the line and take greater financial risk.”

Iguodala hopes that the players will see their worth collectively and individually.

Careers don’t last forever.

At the moment, Iguodala continues, the data saved from last season’s winding road is being incorporated into a new one.