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There’s a tendency in sports to expect too much too quickly out of athletes.
It’s the tendency to make snap judgments; of too quickly bailing on the very athletes we were so excited to cheer for just years prior.
We’re all guilty of it.
From fans to media alike, we often decide quickly whether an athlete has or will live up to the expectations we’ve set for them, often throwing in the towel on their career mere years into them.
Andrew Wiggins, #22 of the Golden State Warriors, poses for a portrait with the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy after winning Game Six of the 2022 NBA Finals on June 16, 2022 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.
(Photo by Mark Blinch/NBAE via Getty Images)
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Andrew Wiggins was one of those players who was in our sights after his first few years as a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves were filled with many highlights but not a lot of winning after being drafted No. 1 overall in the 2014 NBA Draft.
Now, just a few years after his NBA career was questioned, Wiggins is an NBA champion.
When Wiggins was traded to the Golden State Warriors in 2019, many questioned the move, wondering whether Wiggins could ever be a key cog on a championship roster.
Then, something happened. The culture in Golden State brought out the best in Wiggins.
“They just let you play your game,” Wiggins told Fox News Digital. “They put everyone in a position to do well. Great coaching staff, great organization, great people around that know basketball. And my teammates are amazing. Playing alongside future Hall of Famers, you learn a lot. They keep you motivated.”
Golden State Warriors Andrew Wiggins, #22, in action, dribbles vs Boston Celtics Al Horford, #42, at TD Garden. Game 6 of the 2022 NBA Finals.
(Photo by Erick W. Rasco/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images)
We often blame only the athlete for not living up to our lofty expectations, not understanding that sometimes all that is needed is a change in scenery or a different voice in their ear.
“Steve [Kerr] is a great coach. A player’s coach,” Wiggins said. “He’s going to put everyone in a position to do well. He gives all his players confidence, and when you’re on the court, he lets you play your game. Whatever your game is, he lets you play it.
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“He keeps his team motivated. He keeps his team going, and he holds everyone accountable.
The turnaround was amazing to watch. Wiggins became more than a solid defender, often tasked with guarding the opponent’s best offensive player throughout Golden State’s return to the top of the NBA.
Wiggins was arguably Golden State’s second most valuable player throughout their championship run – behind only Steph Curry – averaging 18.3 points and 8.8 rebounds per game in the NBA Finals.
He is now a sought-after player, partnering with Invisalign, which Wiggins says, “is for everyone.”
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“We have an amazing partnership, and one of the reasons I wanted to work with Invisalign, is they have the most advanced clear liners in the world right now,” Wiggins said of working with Invisalign.
“They’re top-notch, and it’s available to everybody. They give you confidence and it’s easy. You can still enjoy your everyday life. Eat what you want. Do what you want and enjoy the time. You don’t feel it, so it helps you even when you don’t know it’s helping you.
Andrew Wiggins, #22 of the Golden State Warriors, celebrates with The Larry O’Brien trophy after Game Six of the 2022 NBA Finals on June 16, 2022 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.
(Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
“It’s there for everybody. And it does help.”
It’s one of sports better stories, a superior athlete finally reaching the expectations that have been set for him.
Along the way, Wiggins has been lucky enough to play with some of the best the NBA has ever seen, helping Curry and Draymond Green climb from the depths of the NBA to becoming champions for the fourth time, and watching fan-favorite Klay Thompson return to the court after two devastating injuries.
“He’s such a great guy and I feel like everyone that’s been around him knows how hard he works,” Wiggins said when asked about Thompson’s return to the court in January. “And how much work he put it in to get back. He had a devastating injury, came back, and then got hurt again. And I feel like that hurt the NBA world because he’s such a great player and a great guy.
“To see how hard he worked to get back, and then to see the success as soon as he gets back, it was amazing. Any hooper loves to see a comeback story. It’s priceless. And his journey was priceless. It was amazing to watch.”
Wiggins has a lot to deal with over the coming months, with the eight-year-pro extension eligible as he enters the final year of his contract. For now though, Wiggins is simply enjoying life as an NBA champion, grateful to be part of the Golden State family.
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“I love Golden State,” Wiggins said. “I love the organization. They treat me and my family so well. I love it.”
Wiggins is a lesson for us all – don’t be so quick to judge the athletes we so enjoy watching. Sometimes a little patience is required.
Joe Morgan is a Sports Reporter for Fox News.