When the Golden State Warriors, a No. 6 seed, took down the third-seeded Denver Nuggets in the first round of the 2013 playoffs, it was a big deal. The Nuggets were the best home team in basketball that season, going 38-3 at the Pepsi Center with 23 straight home wins coming into the series. The Warriors lost Game 1 and All-Star David Lee to a torn hip flexor. The series was supposed to be over just as it was getting started.
Instead, Stephen Curry broke out as a playoff superstar, and Andre Iguodala, then playing for the Nuggets, has been vocal about his affinity for the coaching of then-Warriors coach Mark Jackson, who instilled unmitigated confidence in his young team and allowed them to play freely. Iguodala wanted to be a part of that, and sure enough, he signed with Golden State that offseason.
But was he working for the Warriors before he joined them? At the time there were rumors that Iguodala was leaking information to Jackson about how the Nuggets were trying to, shall we say, rough Curry up. After Game 5, Jackson had this to say:
“They tried to send hit men [at Steph Curry],” Jackson told reporters. “The screen on Curry by the foul line is a shot at his ankle, clearly, it can’t be debated. I have inside information that some people don’t like that brand of basketball and they clearly didn’t co-sign it, so they wanted to let me know that they had no part in what was taking place.”
By “some people” it was believed Jackson meant Iguodala was the one delivering inside information, and indeed George Karl, who coached those Nuggets, said back in 2013 there was “no question” Iguodala was Jackson’s mole. Seven years later, Karl continues to imply as much. Last week, he went on Tim Kawkami’s podcast, “The TK Show,” and here was the exchange:
Kawakami: “Did you have any issue with Iguodala being close to the Warriors and then he ends up signing with the Warriors — is that an issue in your mind at all?”
Karl: “Yeah. I don’t know what the real story is, but there were things there that we saw in film. There was something with Mark Jackson and him that was fishy. Had a bad odor to it. It was negative energy.
“The team gradually figured it out that Iggy was kind of favoring Golden State’s Jackson. His comments were a little bit irregular. But Iggy played well in that series. He played very well for us.”
So, yeah. Not a great look for Iggy if you’re in the “what happens in our locker room stays in our locker room” camp. It’s not a great look for Karl, either, if the claims are true that the Nuggets were actually trying to hurt Curry, though bear in mind Mark Jackson had a propensity for, shall we say, creating drama during his Warriors tenure. Being physical with Curry and actually trying to hurt him are two different things, but they can be muddled together as the same thing depending on how you spin it at a press conference.
Ultimately, neither claim can be confirmed, but to Karl’s point, it’s “fishy” territory made even fishier by the fact that Iguodala went and signed with the Warriors a few months later. Let the conspiracy theories continue.