NBA Star Andre Iguodala Visits Arizona Campus to Offer Advice to Eller Sports Management and Other Students

Sept. 27, 2019
Andra Iguodala with University of Arizona President Robert Robbins

NBA star and celebrated University of Arizona alumnus Andre Iguodala returned to campus on August 28 for a public conversation with President Robert Robbins. In the chat, which was moderated by Brian Jeffries, UA director of broadcasting and voice of the Wildcats, Iguodala discussed his experiences as a college and professional athlete as well as his new book, Sixth Man, the current business landscape and even the positive influence of his grandmother.

In his two years at Arizona, Iguodala earned several men’s basketball honors, including Pac-10 All-freshman, All-conference First Team, All-America Honorable Mention, Arizona Most Valuable Player and Pac-10 Second-team All-academic before being selected in the first round of the 2004 NBA Draft. Speaking of his All-academic honors, Iguodala joked, “No one talks about that one enough. I actually went to class.”

Much of Iguodala’s advice was directed toward student-athletes, including members of Arizona’s current men’s and women’s basketball teams. “When you learn how to embrace the hard things and doing the things that you don’t want to do really well, life is easy,” he said.

Andrea Iguodala and Lehman Benson III

Andre Iguodala with Lehman Benson III, associate professor of management and organizations and executive director of the Eller Sports Management Program.

He also shared the bonds he created with his teammates both on and off the court, noting how extending beyond a paycheck and into human relationships brings benefits well beyond the basketball court.

The conversation shifted to Iguodala’s NBA Champion Golden State Warriors team, coached by fellow Arizona alumnus Steve Kerr, who like Iguodala played under legendary Arizona coach Lute Olson. When asked about that Arizona connection at Golden State, Iguodala said it was the deciding factor in his ability to buy into Kerr’s approach as a coach. “It was like hearing coach Lute again—just with a nicer voice,” he said.

Although the NBA star made it clear that he doesn’t plan on pursuing a future as a coach, Iguodala recognizes the importance of teaching and coaching, mentioning an experience meeting two Eller College of Management students during his time on campus. “Their knowledge blew my mind. They were talking about how teaching and coaching are the next big thing.”

As he enters the twilight of his NBA career, Iguodala is envisioning his life beyond basketball. “I’m really pivoting to being a businessman,” he says. His book Sixth Man allows people to see who he is outside of basketball. “I want people to see me as a non-basketball player, and this is my story,” he said.

Iguodala’s favorite part of returning to campus is interacting with current student-athletes. He enjoys giving advice to the next generation of players who hope to follow in his footsteps. “It always feels like I’m back home,” he said.

Before leaving campus, Iguodala met with Eller Sports Management Program Executive Director Lehman Benson to discuss returning to campus regularly to mentor students.

Header photo by Griffin Riley.