The standout memoir from NBA powerhouse Andre Iguodala, the indomitable sixth man of the champion Golden State Warriors.
Andre Iguodala is one of the most admired players in the NBA. And fresh off the Warriors' third NBA championship in the last four years, his game has never been stronger.
Off the court, Iguodala has earned respect, too--for his successful tech investments, his philanthropy, and increasingly for his contributions to the conversation about race in America. It is no surprise, then, that in his first book, Andre--with his cowriter Carvell Wallace--has pushed himself to go further than he ever has before about his life, not only as an athlete but about what makes him who he is at his core.
The Sixth Man traces Andre's journey from childhood in his Illinois hometown to his Bay Area home court today. Basketball has always been there. But this is the story, too, of his experience of the conflict and racial tension always at hand in a professional league made up largely of African American men; of whether and why the athlete owes the total sacrifice of his body; of the relationship between competition and brotherhood among the players of one of history's most glorious championship teams. And of what motivates an athlete to keep striving for more once they've already achieved the highest level of play they could have dreamed.
On drive, on leadership, on pain, on accomplishment, on the shame of being given a role, and the glory of taking a role on: This is a powerful memoir of life and basketball that reveals new depths to the superstar athlete, and offers tremendous insight into most urgent stories being told in American society today.
“I’ve always loved reading. It came from my mother. Reading was simply a nonnegotiable in my house. If you weren’t reading, you weren’t achieving. The other thing we read at home was the newspaper. This also came from my mom. She insisted on it. She made sure we were keeping ourselves educated. I learned to be interested in world affairs, business, culture, and media. I learned how stories were told and how media and journalism worked. We were well educated, well mannered, well taken care of, and critical thinkers.”
"On the first day of seventh grade I walked into my first-period classroom. We had been given our bell schedule the day before, and I was excited to sit down and get started on a new year....
But I knew something was off, because when I walked into the room, I noticed that all the other kids were white.
I had been placed in the honors track. I didn’t yet think a lot about why it was that the honors track meant all white students except for me.
The teacher stopped me almost immediately.
“I think you might be in the wrong classroom, dear,” she said.
“Nope. Right one.” I still wasn’t really aware of what was happening. Obviously, I had read my schedule and knew which classroom I was supposed to go to. That’s just basic.
Still, she seemed unconvinced.
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, I’m sure, ha-ha.”
This whole thing was silly. I was already headed for a seat, thinking this little interaction was over. But it wasn’t for her.
She followed behind me.
“Can you show me your schedule, hon?” she said.
This time she seemed a little more forceful. It was then that I started to understand. I presented her the schedule I had crumpled in my hand. She looked it over for a moment.
“Ah. OK,” she said quietly. “Take your seat then.”
Did I really get asked to show my papers?
The freedom to be unaware of racism simply doesn’t last long if you’re black."
+ colleges do ruthlessly exploit amateur athletes while some coaches get 7-figure paychecks, the school rakes in the alumni donations and the sports TV media make a mint. They should be paid. If they don't make to the Bigs, and very few do, they have been used and left broke.
+ the media are wolves. With 24/7 coverage and sports media full of hacks, who live off of, or even make up, rumors, and too many so-called "analysts," the media is a pain in the ass to athletes and annoying to some of us fans. Many are simply jealous they don't make the money that these athletes do.
+ Philly is a brutal town to play a sport in, any sport, because the fans are so nasty and well, they have the media as described above. As an example, Iguodala mentions a long interview he did with Sports Illustrated. He says SI got it right, but some in the Philly media took some of his comments about a teammate out of context and made him look as if he was attacking his teammate. This got the Philly fan base roiled up all over again over what was essentially a lie.
"The fans and press in Philadelphia are like the fans and press nowhere else. And that’s a good thing. None of us could stand it if the whole country was like that."
+ the officiating was blatantly biased.....
"Kevin Durant was averaging eight or nine free throws a game in Oklahoma City. In his first year with us, he averaged six. Steph, over his career, all with the Warriors, has averaged between four and five free throws per game, and I’ve watched him come into practice the next day with quarter-inch-deep gashes on his arms from plays that were not called. It’s hard to imagine a back-to-back MVP, unanimous the second time, only getting to the line a handful of times per game like that. Most guys who average 30 points a game shoot way more free throws.
I recently had an assistant coach from another team text me after we played them. He and I went way back to my teenage years. He wanted to congratulate us on keeping our composure during the game. “What do you mean?” I asked. “Our game plan,” he said, “is just to foul the shit out of you. We tell our guys every time-out, just foul the ball handler every time. We know they’re not going to call it.”
So we know that the scouting report on us for most teams is, essentially, rough them up. Knock them around. They’re not going to get the calls.
Even though this had been my sense all along, it was still surprising to hear it so obviously stated by someone else in the league. Why would this even be the case? Does the league feel like we’re too good? Like we could just blow teams out, which would drive down viewership?"
Some reality check....
"Basketball is often for people who have no other choice. If you genuinely have other options, you wouldn’t go as far and face as much. You play for fun, but once it gets serious, once it becomes life-or-death, most people will, if they can, find something a little more stable and a little less critical to do with their lives."
And if you happen to follow pro basketball, you will know how the Warriors franchise "signed off" on putting Kevin Durant into a play-off game where a resulting achilles injury may have have ruined his career. The franchise may have realized he was moving on anyway, so let's try to squeeze more out of him before he goes.
"The reality is that this system of professional sports is set up to squeeze literally every last thing it can out of the horses. When that much money is at stake, for that many people, your personal health and well-being is going to take a back seat to their bottom line. This is why guys are on the sideline getting pain pills and injections, going to surgeries, getting cartilage and bones and ligaments rebuilt, trying every random, weird, experimental treatment under the sun just to get back out there and play. The human body was not naturally meant to bang up and down a court for eighty-two games. It just wasn’t. You have to break yourself in order to do that. You have to, in a sense, break nature."
The exploitation, and injuries, start early in AAU (Amateur Athletic Association) basketball. In his book, Igoudala criticizes AAU and the NBA commissioner agrees.
This was a difficult book for me to complete. I thought about bailing on it quite a few times. But, I stuck it out. The book started off really good. The first quarter of the book Andre told stories about his childhood, his mom, and his brother and the town in which he was raised. But once he reached his college years he completely stopped writing about his personal life and for the remainder of the book he only wrote about basketball. In depth basketball! He broke down how free agency works, he gave very in depth, play-by-play moments on the court. He wrote about teams, trades, players, referees, and coaches.
Now don’t get me wrong, I like basketball. And I’ve recently read and enjoyed books by both Kobe Bryant and Lamar Odom. But this book contained WAY WAY WAY TOO MUCH talk about basketball. And as a lover of memoirs I found this extremely disappointing. There was no basketball/personal life balance! As a matter-of-fact, it wasn’t until page 183/245 as Andre described the scene on the court when the Warriors won their 1st NBA championship against the Cleveland Cavaliers that I learned he has a wife and son. In a simple sentence he stated that his wife and son were on the floor enjoying the celebration. When I read this I thought, “He has a wife and a son? When did this happen?” There was so much missing from his story. From reading this book I wanted to get a complete picture of Andre the man, not just Andre the basketball player. Unfortunately that didn’t happen. I completed this book very unsatisfied!
But, on a positive note, I did appreciate everything he shared regarding his thoughts on Black Americans in today’s society. (I don’t think I will ever look at referees the same again) I loved his honesty and I am in total agreement with his perspective.
I would love to give this book 5⭐️s. But I just can’t. It just didn’t resonate with me. But again as I always say...if your intention was to read this book before reading my thoughts, please continue to do so! Every book is not made for every body. Just because this book was not for me, does not mean it is not meant for you!
Thanks to Netgalley and Penguin Group for the advanced digital review copy of this book.
Coming into this book I had quite a measure of respect for Andre Iguodala and was interested to read more about his life and career from his point of view. Unfortunately after reading the book, I wish that I had not. The beginning of the book is quite interesting and talks about his youth and experiences growing up. Unfortunately the rest of the book seems to be his opportunity to air his grievances with every facet of society he thinks has wronged him. First its the college system as they don't pay their players (fair enough but a bit more complex than he makes out). Then its the NBA owners because even though they are paying him millions of dollars, they are still making more (generally how business works) and finally he tees off on the referees who are apparently biased against Golden State because they are the champions and because all the referees are white men. In summary I would recommend that you avoid this one unless you are an absolute die hard Warriors or Andre Iguodala fan.
Basketball is unique in one way in that a player can become even more famous when he is no longer in the starting line up and instead will come off the bench to contribute in a valuable manner to his or her team. One player who has done that is Andre Iguodala. While he was a very good player as a starter for the Philadelphia 76ers and Denver Nuggets, he became even more noticed as the sixth man for the team that has won three of the last four NBA championships, the Golden State Warriors. He tells the story of his life, his career and his take on some of today’s issues in the game in this excellent memoir with Carvelle Wallace.
While the writing may not be as crisp as some other memoirs, what I found refreshing about this book is the Iguodala was very candid about every topic he addressed. Whether it was whether college athletes should be paid, the point in his career when he truly realized that professional sports are a business and not just a game, how the public believes athletes should communicate in the media or racial issues, Iguodala lets the reader know up front that this is his viewpoint and how he sees the particular issue.
The latter two topics come up in the incident in which I believed that this book went from good to excellent and that was when he used a phrase that sounded like one used from the days of slavery when he answered a question on the relationship between a head coach and the players. He didn’t back off of his comment, he didn’t take swipes at those who criticized his remarks (and there were plenty) and his explanation of it was consistent with his stance on his viewpoints earlier expressed on racial matters and the ways in which professional athletes are expected to conduct themselves.
None of them are really shocking or reveal new material, but are excellent to read for the sheer rawness of exposing his feelings. When he praised Curt Flood, who challenged baseball’s reserve clause in 1970, it showed that he has studied the history of these subject extensively and his comment that every professional athlete should thank Flood for them being able to enjoy the freedoms and riches they have today was profound.
Of course, he talks about basketball in the book a lot as well as these other issues. On this topic, he is quite fluid as well. This part of the book does follow the tried and true formula of chronicling the highlights of each level of basketball played. His reflections on his time at the University of Arizona and what coach Lute Olson did for and to him were very interesting to read as it can be the case for many college basketball players, but was something I had never read before.
Iguodala’s time in Philadelphia was marked with many ups and downs, both on the court, where the 76ers enjoyed some moderate success and off the court with his relationship with the fans and press an ongoing drama. After a brief time in Denver, he signed with the Warriors as a free agent and his accounting of his time with Golden State is one in which he really learns what it is like to share the spotlight with superstar players. He explains how these players like Steph Curry and Kevin Durant not only are excellent players but how they each contribute to the success of the team on the court and in the public eye.
Any fan of the current NBA game, especially Warriors fans, will want to read this book about the team’s vital sixth man and how he sees the world of professional basketball. It is a book that once a reader starts, it will be very hard to put down.
I wish to thank Blue Rider Press for providing a copy of the book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Maybe the best audiobook I've ever listened to. I loved this book, and full disclaimer I'm a Warriors fan. This book was WAY better than I was expecting. Its really smart and well crafted and well written and well read. Iguodala mixes basketball with race and life and growing up. I only wish he waited to write the book until he retired from the NBA so we could get insights from all his seasons.
If you like basketball, read this book. Its really really good.
This was great! I have always loved watching Andre on the court and this book made me appreciate and respect him even more. This book felt like I was just hanging out with Andre while he talked about his life. Very down to earth and honest. I loved it and couldn't put it down.
Overall a beautiful Memoir. Out of all of the basketball memoirs that I've read, The Sixth man, captures the metamorphosis of an NBA star perfectly. Before reading this book, I've never considered the aspect of the typical NBA athlete. There are so many Peaks and valleys within an NBA career. At the beginning of Andre Iguodala's career you witness the struggles of a young NBA star trying to find his way in the league. As he reaches the middle of his career, he gets blindsided by a trade, and has to adapt to a new NBA franchise's culture. When Andre Iguodala has the option of free agency, this is when things get interesting. Lots of deep anecdotes on race in America as a black man. I have learned things about Andre that I never suspected. Now he is one of my favorite players. Especially after reading this book.
Una delle cose che mi ha spinto a leggere questo libro è il fatto che secondo Barack Obama è uno dei milgiori usciti nell'anno 2019. Se devo essere onesta: ok, Obama, però c'è di meglio. Intendiamoci: non è male. Soprattutto, mi è piaciuta l'onestà con la quale Iguodala (che a inizio anno è tornato ai Warriors ed è ancora in Nba a 39 anni suonati) racconta gli anni dell'università e i retroscena sull'ascesa di un campione: i coach che ti mentono per trarre il massimo profitto da te, gli agenti, il draft che è come se fosse una roba da mercato di carne, eccetera. Tutto molto bello, ma manca il mordente. Pure quando viene affrontata la questione razziale - un tema che non può non essere toccato, vista l'epoca in cui è stato scritto. Ecco è tutto molto politically correct pure in quei frangenti. Ma forse è anche lo specchio della personalità di Iguodala. Fortemente consigliato per gli appassionati di basket, comunque.
There are a few athletes who share a quality which is hard to pinpoint: watching them, I sense that not only are they so on top of their game that, proverbially, the “game slows down” for them, but also, when they are on the court/diamond/field/pitch, they make the game slow down for their entire squad. For me, exemplars of this type of ultimate team players, aka “glue guys”, include Buster Posey, Ronnie Lott, Andrea Pirlo, and one of my all-time favorite Basketball players, Andre Iguodala. Absent the acquisition of Iguodala, which was made possible by the small contract given to Steph Curry because of his fragile ankle, the Warriors may well have eventually become NBA champions (maybe), but it certainly would have taken longer, and I seriously doubt that they would be sitting on four rings right now. Andre is the consummate pro, and he has penned one of the better sports memoirs I have ever read.
The adjectives coming to mind to describe this book are “vulnerable” and “sharp.” Vulnerable because Iguodala takes you through his small hometown world and high school basketball experience all the way up to his time at the top of the NBA. Sharp because he pulls no punches in exposing the dehumanizing elements of the NCAA and NBA systems for athletes in general, and the racist elements of those same systems for black athletes in particular. Not only did this book give me more empathy for a professional athlete in general, but it provided greater understanding of a black athlete’s experience in particular.
I listened to the audiobook version narrated by Iguodala and Sullivan Jones, and I thought it was excellently performed.
I really enjoyed Andre’s book and getting to know more about the life of one of my favorite basketball players! It was well written and I enjoyed how you got a clear picture of his career and the ins and outs of the sport.
I've always liked Iggy's game and mentality, but his book was even better than I had anticipated. You get a full perspective of the sport, including all the legal pitfalls, brutal business decisions and insane entertainment aspects as well.
As a longtime Golden State Warriors fan, I have long admired Andre Iguodala for his basketball skill, leadership, and integrity. Plus, you've gotta love those muscles of his. His book comes highly recommended, not only because of his basketball IQ, but the opportunity to learn more about what it's really like to perform at the highest levels of the NBA and to persevere and thrive amidst multiple challenges. My admiration for Andre is higher than ever and as sorry as I am to no longer have him play with the Dubs, I wish him all the best wherever he lands.
I picked this up as a Warriors fan, and I was most excited to read about those years. Those were still my favorite chapters, but the entire book was really insightful. It sounded a lot like Andre Iguodala—a player who's always been open and vocal about race relations in the NBA. I loved reading about the relationships between front offices and players too, especially now that there's such a debate about players running the league and being able to demand trades.
Men write odes. Often in the form of a long, exculpatory visage to help make sense out of the fantastic, to take stock of a life well lived, show gratitude, and like the kindly Brooks freshly released from Shawshank, to just let one know he was here; it's not all guilt - I do exist.
Andre Iguodala's The Sixth Man isn't necessarily an existential examination but it is a memoir of substance as he fills us in on the NBA season and how (as I've always thought), it is indeed a season that doesn't 'begin' until after the All Star break.
... and much more
Along the way he includes his missteps (few) and he remains if not apologetic, at least reflective without seeming trite. A man of his word with love and admiration for his rookies. He also sheds light on his relationships with star players; how he was to be the next A.I., and how Luke Walton was really an excellent college player and pro - that in itself was shocking.
Particularly illuminating were his dealings with agents (he settled on Rob Pelinka who, like Bruce Lee, had no tactics to speak of but was a superior tactician nonetheless), and they were as repellant as you may have expected.
Finally, he takes us through his championships with Dubs, the KD fiasco and its impact on the team, guarding and getting blocked by Lebron, and life beyond basketball.
The Sixth Man is a story of tainted fandom and relentless pressure, redemptive motivation and sputtering careers wracked by injury and pain, and endless bus rides.
When a friend saw that I was reading a memoir based on the life of an NBA player, she immediately stated she didn't like sports and therefore wouldn't be interested. And much like the myopia of fans who do not see a human; often sacrificing everything he has, and just a guy 'getting paid millions to play a kids' game,' perhaps there would be so much more to learn about the human condition.
Like any books about music and music bio's I cannot stop reading, once started. I finish these type of bio's quickly. I had no prior knowledge other than his record as a player, but was intrigued from page one. It is certainly a quick read. Remember, It's not like Andre Iguodala is so old he has a huge backstory for a bio, dude's only 35! Key points: His mother and grandmother raised him amongst, many cousins and a brother in very Caucasian Springfield IL. He kept his head in the books and did well in school as well as obviously becoming a high level all star through his formative years and ultimately a NBA champion, 3 times! He knows he was raised well, and appreciated the focus and gifts he was give. He addresses race, burden/blessing of suddenly becoming one of the few 20 year old millionaires on earth, and being in the spotlight. Ultimately a lot of the little details we NBA fans do not always get to hear from the dudes we worship and yell at, and scream for every season. Enough said. This book was , informative, humbly voiced (the dude was a complete baller), interesting, and quickly finished.
Andre does a spectacular job discussing the positive and negative aspects of the game and business of basketball. The game of basketball is his life’s work, but he is not afraid to call out specific flaws of the NBA (things that can be applied to other major sports), including: media bombardment, spectator influence, sacrificing your body, racial tensions, and exploitation of players by teams. This exploitation of players is also highlighted at the college level via the NCAA. If you think you know a lot about the game of basketball, think again.
Besides basketball, Andre discusses his childhood, his family, his friendships, his struggles/fear, and his life.
I picked up THE SIXTH MAN as an Iggy fan, and enjoyed many parts of the book, including his thoughts on race and being a professional athlete. At times I wondered if this would've been better structured as a series of essays, rather than a chronological memoir, given the focus on his opinions. (For example, I felt like I learned very little about his time at Arizona; instead that chapter covered more ground on people in small towns with unrealized potential, college player-coach dynamics, and college athletes not being paid.)
The narration by Sullivan Jones is great; I'm glad I listened to this one.
Liked it, didn’t love it. It’s thoughtful, as you might expect. Thought it was a great glimpse into the dedication Andre has put into his career. You can see why he’s been able to stick around as long as he has.
On the downside the book’s mood worsens as it progresses. Not sure if that’s what he intended, but it’s how it read to me.
Favorite part of the book? His Klay Thompson “f*ck you Andre” story. Made me laugh out loud.
The stories with his mom and great, as is his (incredible) anecdote of pre-draft interviews.
Andre (we learn he hates being called Iggy) is recognised as one of the finest minds in the NBA - well-informed, savvy and articulate. The book captures that side of him in parts - particularly when talking about the Warriors and race. Definitely better edited than the average athlete memoir.
Yet, something was missing. Perhaps I expected too much. Or it could just be sour grapes. :) (Had been trying to get my hands on it for a long time and the price never quite felt right.)
There was a psychological benefit to a coach who saw you as an adult professional and who prioritized helping you along with your career above all else. It was respect. Respect as a human, respect as an adult, respect as a professional.
An easy read, a solid book, but nothing too memorable. I liked the first half of the book the most - it felt the most personal, and gave me the most interesting insights into Andre as a person.
I have been a fan of Andre since he attended school in Tucson. I really enjoyed reading this book and learning about his life, thinking, and spirit.
There were more captivating stories in the first half of the book and more commentary in the back half. It felt like book 1 and Book 2. And I wonder now that he’s been traded, if there will be an addendum.
I love basketball and Andre Iguodala is one of the reasons I do. Andre Iguodala's memoir of his ride to the NBA and his experience in it is honest and revealing. He describes the subtle and overt racism. I love the frank and open way he discusses his gratitude and frustration being a highly paid professional athlete. He broaches the mental toll of the game and his obsessing over his profession. The tone is personal and helpful and cautionary. After reading this I felt like I had met a second brother.
As a die hard Warrior fan, I ate up every word of Andre's story. Its a good inside view of what its like to be in the NBA, and its quite a challenge. I miss Andre being a part of our team and, one day, when basketball comes back, post corona- praise God!- I hope he will bring his courage and talent and wisdom and coolness back to the Bay!
Good mix of A) his childhood and how it formed who he is today, B) each year of his NBA career, and C) race issues in the NBA/America and how they overlap.
Especially relevant with the George Floyd/Breonna Taylor/BLM events and how they affected the NBA bubble & playoffs. The Bucks & Magic postponed game because the Bucks decided to boycott game, which led to all the other playoff games for that day and the following day also being postponed & rescheduled.
Great read/listen and Andre's story provides an interesting perspective on life and the state of professional athletes. For some reason, despite how great a player he is, I get the impression his NBA career is just a warm-up.
AWEsome read!! I am not sure where I got this quote from, but it is one I have lived by since college: "live without the box"!! Iggy articulated this mindset so beautifully with the following quote: "the idea that I don't even have a right to be in that room- is what I would spend the rest of my life proving wrong." To be confident, comfortable, and secure in any room is what I want and will have!!
Pages 37-40 may be the best pages I have read explaining how black people have to handle racism, and rely on their confidence to get by. "You have to learn confidence. You have to own it. Or else you won't survive." Instead of living offended by racism's continued existence, you learn how to channel it and take it as a challenge to continue to progress!!