There’s no denying that 2015 NBA champion and finals MVP Andre Iguodala is one of the hardest-working players in the sport today. So how does the Golden State Warrior’s stylish swingman spend his time in the off-season? By traveling to Japan to participate in a whirlwind two-day tour of Tokyo, promoting basketball and the NBA abroad.
“I’ve been wanting to come to Japan, and Tokyo in particular, for a while now,” Iguodala told T+L. “I’ve always wanted to get here because I’ve heard a lot about the fashion and the food, and those are two things that I’m really into.” Sponsored by NBA Clutch Time, a mobile game that allows players to build and coach their own NBA teams, Iguodala took time to meet his fans and pose for pictures with the Larry O'Brien and Bill Russell trophy, which he won as the NBA Finals MVP. We talked to Iguodala about his trip, Japanese street wear, and his favorite thing to collect on trips.
You’re the NBA finals MVP and a 2015 NBA champion. How has that impacted your travels at home and abroad?
It’s harder to go in and out of the airports now. It gets a little hectic. But it’s been really cool, actually—you don’t realize the reach the NBA has and how many people followed the NBA finals last year around the world. You have conversations with people from all depths of the earth who watched the finals, so that’s pretty cool.
Tell me about your packing strategy for an international trip like this?
Traveling’s easy; you get used to it. When we go on our five- or six-game road trips (we have two every year), you get a feel for how you want to pack. I’ve been to Asia for, like, nine years straight. It just depends on how many days you have, how many nights you have. You need an outfit for every game, so you need about two or three outfits a day.
I try and keep a color scheme that’s really simple, so I don’t need to pack three or four pairs of shoes. Plus, my feet are big, so they take up a lot of space in my suitcase—I keep that in mind. The only thing I really need is my hard-drive, my laptop, iPad, chargers, converter and all my toiletries, so it’s pretty easy. I’m used to it now.
When you’re on the road, how do you maintain your style game?
It’s kind of a calculated madness. I always keep in mind where I’m going, weather, region. If I’m going to a party or something, I’ll pack a suit or a sports coat. If I’m in Chicago, I’ll bring something a little more edgy—it’s kind of just where I’m at and what the weather will be like. You just have to pack accordingly.
You mentioned a few things, but what’s the one thing you can’t travel without?
Probably my phone. Although I keep my phone on airplane mode and I only use it when I have Wi-Fi, so I really don’t need it. I guess my watch has been good for me, so I can keep up with the time zone both here and at home. That’s been helpful.
Do you have a favorite airline or flying experience?
I had a flight to China that was the first double-decker plane I’d been on—I think it was Singapore Airlines. That airplane was nice, we were upstairs, and it was a nice trip. The food was good, everything was good.
How do you pass the in-flight time?
The majority of the time I try and watch TV shows. I’m watching Suits now, and I’m finishing up House of Cards. And I read. I’ve got a few magazines on my iPad.
What are your cures for jetlag?
What I usually do is, once I land I don’t really go to sleep. I try and stay up on the flight, and adjust my schedule, and when I get in I try and work out. Especially if I get in in the morning at like four or five a.m., which can be really hard, I try and stay up throughout the day.
It’s almost like being out in Miami for the night when you’re up until 6 a.m.—I try and think of it like that. Last night, I got to bed around 10:30 p.m., so I’m on schedule now. I’ll take a nap if I’m really tired, but in general I try and stay up to get acclimated naturally.
Do you prefer the aisle or window?
I like the window more. That way, nobody can really reach across me.
Basketball is so engrained in American culture, and it’s become hugely popular in Asia. Tell us about that, and what you think the future holds for basketball abroad?
Basketball’s been going global since the Dream Team ’92, and some of the game’s greats, like Magic Johnson, who played great, and Michael Jordan, who’s game was over the top—both of them really helped with the NBA’s global reach.
We had a lot of international players from various countries who always want to support our players who are currently in the Olympics. The Olympics are big here as far as basketball goes. You have guys like Yao Ming, who have really great careers, and fans not only follow him, but they start following other players and that kind of kick starts everything.
How are the fans over there? Have they been pumped to see you on this tour?
It’s been really cool. The fans here in Tokyo are more laid-back, fans aren’t as forward as in other places. Our event yesterday was great, we had a really good turnout, and fans stayed throughout the whole event, even when I was taking pictures.
How do you maintain your training on international trips?
I have a routine, three to four hours a day I get my weights in. I find a gym, find a rebounder, and make the most of the weight room.
What’s the best thing you’ve eaten so far?
Last night I ate Yakiniku. It’s like Japanese barbeque. They bring you a steak, and you grill it on your own in front of you. The food last night was amazing. And cow tongue—we had cow tongue!
Have you seen any Japanese fashions or brands that have inspired you?
It’s really all about keeping up with the trends and staying true to yourself. I never try to get too far outside of what I’m comfortable in, but at the same time I like to stay current. Most people don’t realize it, but a lot of style comes from over here, so it’s been really interesting to see.
We were driving up the street yesterday and saw a lot of interesting street wear. Street wear has a lot of influence that comes from Tokyo. We saw a guy in Timberlands and he had a long, slim T-shirt on, and that’s kind of the look right now for guys between 18 to 25 in America. I pick up on the culture and there’s that sense of how people are pushing the fashion envelope on both sides, as far as Japanese and American fashion goes.
What’s on your travel bucket list?
I don’t have a buck list, really, but I really want to get back to Africa. I plan on next year or sometime in the next two years, at the most, on getting back to Africa. A good friend of mine was just there and had the experience of a lifetime, so I plan on getting back really soon.
I’ve got to go to Nigeria, because that’s where my fathers from. I’d like to start there and go to a few other places.
Do you collect anything on your trips abroad?
Mental notes, and lots of memories.
Are you looking forward to doing anything special on this trip?
I’m hoping to have some fun today and tomorrow. Yesterday I was working, and was in and out of the gym and trying to adjust, so I’m looking forward to making some memories in the next 36 hours.