Leveling with you here: I understand the tight spot that reporters put players in. Nine times out of ten, this what they’re going for. Meaning, players are tasked not only with playing nice (most leagues mandate face time with the media) but keeping themselves out of headlines. Not always easy.

Let that be the grain of salt with which you take Kobe Bryant’s and LeBron James’ glowing quotes about Andre Iguodala.

Said Bryant (CSN Philly):

“He’s been shooting the lights out here. I mean, his jump shot has been extremely consistent this whole camp. Defensively, I knew he was there. His passing ability’s there, his ball-handling ability’s there. Really I think the shooting part of his game is something that’s been really consistent as of late.”

The obvious implication there being that Bryant’s surprised by that. Think Sixers fans understand why.

Said  James (CSN):

“He’s great for our team. He can do everything, and we need that. We need a guy that is not afraid to do the small things, and he’s gonna be big time for our team.”

Especially with Blake Griffin out. Griffin underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Monday. Done for the playoffs. Should be ready for the start of the NBA regular season. (No, no, Phils fans. Totally understand your skepticism.)

Why this matters? Because it’s the first time players have chimed in on Iguodala on Team USA. We’ve heard from Mike Krzyzewski and Jerry Colangelo, who, being that they hand-picked him and hand-picked the hand-picker, were kinda sorta committed to having Iguodala’s back publicly. Hadn’t yet heard from players, though. Until now.

Now that we have, it’s worth noting that nobody made Bryant or James — two of the game’s preeminent elites — go to the lengths they did. And that says something.