Andre Iguodala Stands Up for Young Warriors Teammate

Jonathan Kuminga Warriors

Getty Golden State Warriors forward Jonathan Kuminga runs the floor during a summer league bout with the San Antonio Spurs.

Andre Iguodala is pushing back after a young Golden State Warriors teammate faced some harsh criticism.

In an appearance on ESPN’s First Take last month, pundit Stephen A. Smith shared concern about Jonathan Kuminga, saying he heard some concerning reports about his attitude. Iguodala, who served as a mentor to Kuminga and the team’s other young players, took on Smith and said there was nothing to the rumors.

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Iguodala Pushes Back

In his appearance, Smith said the Warriors had a bright future with some of their young stars, but could have trouble with Kuminga due to his attitude.

“I’m worried about Kuminga. I’m hearing too many things about him off the court in terms of his head,” Smith said. “The level of discipline he lacks. You understand? Some of the foolishness.

“I’m not getting in his personal business; I’m not saying nothing like that. I’m talking attitude, I’m not talking actions. I’m saying that attitude, the level of focus, commitment, determination, just putting your head down — doing the work. I’m hearing that he’s shortchanging the Warriors in that regard, and he gotta get his act together, because I’m a Jonathan Kuminga fan.”

But Iguodala doesn’t believe the rumors, and said that Kuminga has been working hard to improve over the summer months. He had a strong showing in Golden State’s Summer League season and recently played for the Congolese national team in the 2023 FIBA World Cup qualifiers

“My young fella, I’m on his head,” Iguodala said on his “Point Forward” podcast on September 2. “He took some licks from Stephen A. I don’t know how warranted they were because from what I heard he been doing what he supposed to do this summer.”

Iguodala Helped Kuminga Develop

The Warriors signed Iguodala last offseason largely to serve as a mentor to the team’s group of young players, and the 18-year veteran earned some praise from head coach Steve Kerr for his work with Kuminga and third-year center James Wiseman.

The Warriors also took a careful approach to Kuminga’s development last year, splitting his early season time between Golden State and the team’s G League affiliate in Santa Cruz. Kuminga gradually moved into a larger role, but Kerr said he stressed to the rookie that he would be coming along slowly.

After Kuminga notched a career-high 26 points against the Toronto Raptors in December when the Warriors were missing four starters, Kerr said he needed to remind the rookie about his overarching goal for the season — learning to win.

“I told him: ‘If we were a lousy team, you’d be doing this every night,’” Kerr told reporters after the December 18 game, via NBC Sports Bay Area. “‘You’d be on the All-Rookie team and scoring a bunch of points, and everybody would be saying how great Kuminga is. But you wouldn’t be learning how to win.’ ”

It’s not clear yet if Iguodala will be back to continue helping Kuminga and the other young players develop. The team has reportedly held open a roster spot if Iguodala decides to return, but the 38-year-old has not yet announced whether he will play another season or retire.

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