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“I just needed the space” — Andre Iguodala once cleared out his teammate’s locker after having multiple bad games in a row

Both teammates went at it and had to be untangled by their teammates to cool down.
Golden State Warriors forward Andre Iguodala

Andre Iguodala

Back when the Golden State Warriors were building their dynasty in 2015, the core of Steph Curry, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson was still young and inexperienced. At that time, veterans like Andre Iguodala took the leadership role for the surging Warriors. We know the player leadership in the NBA comes in a vast array of ways, but nothing as extreme as locker room hazing.

The vet versus the sophomore

Iguodala, who was in his 11th year in the league in 2015, demanded excellence from the young Warriors team, who were experiencing their first taste of championship basketball. Iguodala knew that to attain the championship, every player needed to contribute consistently, otherwise the cap space consumed by that player would go to waste.

So when Iguodala encountered players like Justin Holiday, who came off the bench for the Warriors and was barely a productive piece, the veteran wanted the young player to be more efficient and string solid games. To Iguodala's disappointment, Holiday never got to do so, as he averaged just 4.3 points and 1.2 rebounds in 59 games for the '14/'15 Warriors. Iguodala knew he needed to get in Holiday's head.

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According to novelist Ethan Sherwood Strauss, writer of the book entitled "The Victory Machine: The Making and Unmaking of the Warriors Dynasty," Iguodala, who sat beside Holiday in the Warriors locker room, once cleared out the sophomore's belongings in his locker because of his consistently poor performance throughout the season.

"I just needed the space," Iguodala said with a shrug to Holiday, as narrated by Strauss in his book. Holiday didn't take Iguodala's actions and words kindly, and so he fought back only to get another "I just needed the space" reply from the veteran attached with another shady smirk on his face. The two then went at it and had to be untangled by their teammates to cool down.

Ethan Sherwood Strauss, "The Victory Machine."

Aside from bullying his weak teammate to play better, Iguodala wanted to send a message that Holiday wasn't going to last long in the league, especially with this kind of production. This was how Iguodala treated his teammates to succeed and whether you agree with it or not, there's no denying that the veteran played a vital role in winning three of Golden State's precious dynasty-defining championships.

There's a deeper competition between teammates.

In the NBA, most teammates aren't friends with each other despite what you see on the court. The high fives, hugs, and passion they all share for winning are real, but there's a deeper competition between teammates in the locker room. Most role players fight with each other for playing time, salary, and touches on the court. After all, their livelihood depends on how they perform and win games.

So Iguodala's form of leadership or, to an extent, hazing Holiday is just a prime example of the competition in the locker room. The veteran knew that Holiday needed to utilize his minutes wisely because if he didn't, that would be a waste for other role players like him who wanted to win and carve their path in the league.

That's why there's more to player leadership than just demanding and inspiring the best from your teammates. Iguodala wanted to prove a point by letting his weak teammates know that their mediocracy not only affects the team's overall success but also every individual's stature in the league. 

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