Amid trade speculation last week in the New York media on the future of Knicks guard Iman Shumpert, nothing was more important at weeks end than Shumpert putting a smile on kids faces. The defensive specialist hosted his Citi Iman Shumpert Basketball ProCamp yesterday at Hooperstown in Mount Vernon, NY. Shumpert ran drills with the kids, took photos and spoke reverently on how much basketball meant to him. “Obviously if you guys are here, I would hope that you like basketball,” Shumpert told his campers.
“If you respect this game, and if you give this game your all, it’ll give back to you.”
As excited as the kids were to see the 23-year-old in the gym, Shumpert was equally excited to work with them: “It’s dope,” Shumpert told The Source. “I like to be around young kids that want to get better. As a kid, that’s all I wanted to do is play and get better, so as long as kids share a love for the game I feel like we have something in common.”
In addition to talking about his camp and working with kids, Shumpert addressed recent trade rumors with the media. The New York Daily News reported last Wednesday that the Knicks were trying to work a deal with the Denver Nuggets that would include Shumpert and Denver Nuggets power forward Kenneth Faried. There are also reports of the Knicks talking to the Sacramento Kings about a deal for Shumpert. “It’s nothing I can really do,” Shumpert said yesterday. “If they trade me, they trade me. It’s not in my control. All I know is I’m on the Knicks right now and I’ve got to play hard for the Knicks.”
At 3-6, the Knicks are in 4th place in the NBA’s Eastern Conference standings and 4th in the Atlantic Division. While still quite early in the NBA season, Shumpert is not ready to hit the panic button on the Knicks’ season. “I don’t think we need to improve anything, I think we just need to win a game and string them together and everybody will calm down,” he said.
He even cites the past as proof: “My rookie year, we lost twelve straight and people don’t even remember that. But you just gotta keep playing, we’ve got 82 games—we can’t panic we just gotta play.”
Shumpert was spot on with those numbers. After a lack-luster start to the 2011-12 season, his rookie year, the Knicks were in fact 8 and 13 in their first 21 games,. The Knicks finished that season 36-30 in the NBA’s lockout shortened season and were in 7th place in the Eastern Conference (2nd in the Atlantic Division). They were eliminated in the 1st round of the playoffs by the eventual NBA champs, the Miami Heat.
Currently, 1-5 at home, New York lost to Houston and Atlanta this week.“It’s been disappointing so far because we haven’t taken care of business at home,” he said.
The Knicks are in Detroit on Tuesday and will face a Piston team who got a win against the Lakers in Los Angeles on Sunday. The Knicks will be back in New York on Wednesday for a matchup against the red-hot Pacers, winners of 9 straight until losing to the Chicago Bulls on Saturday. After Indy, the Knicks will take a ride down I-95 for a duel with the Washington Wizards Saturday night. For now, Shumpert is a Knick and he’s optimistic that his team will be alright: “We will get it done.”
Photo: Eric Salvary