Cleveland, OH (SportsNetwork.com) - After the final buzzer sounded on Tuesday night, Andre Iguodala retrieved the game ball, clenched it tightly against his hip and joyfully began to jump up and down.
It was a career moment 11 years in the making.
He also has an NBA Finals MVP to go along with that prestigious basketball.
Iguodala scored a season-high 25 points in the Golden State Warriors' 105-97 Game 6 clincher over the Cleveland Cavaliers, helping end the franchise's 40- year title drought.
"This has been a long ride," Iguodala said of winning the award. "I was just happy with winning the ring. This is a plus."
Iguodala sacrificed his starting role to Harrison Barnes when the Golden State Warriors tipped off their season on Oct. 29, coming off the bench for the first time in his career.
"That set the tone for the entire season," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.
The 31-year-old swingman had started the first 758 games of his career.
Iguodala was thrust back into the starting lineup for the first time all season in Game 4 with the Warriors trailing the NBA Finals 2-1.
Three wins followed.
Kerr's bold move changed the complexion of the series. He took Andrew Bogut out of his starting slot and elected to insert his super-small lineup to begin Game 4. The 6-foot-7 Draymond Green started at center.
"That was a critical and determining factor in this series," Cavs coach David Blatt said. "We sort of lost the pace battle, the game speeded up."
Iguodala poured in 22 points in the 102-83 Warriors rout in Game 4.
Not only did Kerr make the move for pace purposes, Iguodala was also Golden State's best defender on LeBron James.
"Guarding LeBron James has to be the hardest job in basketball," Kerr said.
"You have to put so much effort not to stop him, but to contain him," he said.
James averaged 35.8 points, 13.3 rebounds and 8.8 assists per game in the series.
"I kind of knew how to lessen the blow," Iguodala said. "LeBron doesn't have a glaring weakness, so you have to pick up on the smaller things to make him uncomfortable."
Iguodala averaged 16.3 points, 5.8 rebounds and four assists per game in his first NBA Finals appearance. It's the first time in NBA Finals history that a player took home MVP honors after not starting a game during the regular season.
Iguodala recorded 7.8 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists per contest during the regular season.
When asked on what he would've said if someone told him two weeks ago that he'd win the Finals MVP, Iguodala stated that he wouldn't have been surprised.
"I'm that confident in my game. I'm too hard on my game," he said.
Iguodala, however, did say that he would've bet on NBA MVP Stephen Curry or the do-it-all forward Green.
Good thing he didn't make that wager.