David Lee. Wilson Chandler. Iman Shumpert. In two decades, only three players have been drafted by the Knicks and made it to their fourth season in New York (Nate Robinson was originally drafted by the Suns). This is a franchise that has traditionally pawned off its draft picks at the earliest opportunity. And when the Ted Stepien Rule deigned to intervene, practically forcing them to keep young talent on the roster, the Knicks could usually be counted on to marginalize the poor sap and grind his confidence into dust. These three survived the longest. They should probably be given a medal.
Shump was multi-talented, athletically gifted, and cool as hell. He also never posted a PER or WS/48 rating above the league average. He showed glimpses of excellence, but could never be counted on to maintain that elite play for more than a few games at a time.
Maybe the flat-topped one will find that consistency some day -- all we know is that it won't be in New York. On Monday Shumpert was traded, along with J.R. Smith, to the Cleveland Cavaliers for what amounts to a 2019 second-round pick and a handful of stale Fritos from David Blatt's pocket. Some of us liked the trade; some of us had hoped the Knicks could find a place for Shump next season at the right price.
Whatever your thoughts on the deal that sent him away, and whatever your thoughts on his past, present and future, you probably have some strong feelings about Iman Shumpert. We here at P&T certainly do. Let's go around the table for some memories and final impressions of Shump as he heads to Cleveland.
Seth: I will best remember Shump from that Pacers playoff series. That was the Shump I thought could become a real, everyday thing: Deadly three-point shooting, wing defense, and splendid rebounding for his position.
Silly as it may be, I still think he could become that somewhere someday. Maybe it just wasn't meant to happen in New York, as much as he seemed like a fit back on draft night. For all his virtues, Shump strikes me as a sensitive guy. That didn't work so well for him in the constant churn of the Knicks. He always seemed affected by changing coaches, changing roles, trade rumors, and the push and pull of suffering and rehabilitating from injuries, perhaps more than most.
I think it's fair to say Shumpert ran out of excuses over almost four years as a Knick-- at some point, the shots have to stay falling and the defense has to match its potential, weird environment or not-- but dammit, I still believe in those excuses.
WScottD: Shumpert's been one of those players I had trouble analyzing without bias ever since the Knicks drafted him. In reality, he's streaky in almost every way: shooting, creating his own shot, setting up teammates, locking down opposing ball-handlers. That's probably just who he is. But with Knicks-colored glasses on, he was a feisty guy who embodied that old-school Knicks spirit; a guy who showed flashes of top 3-and-D wing, who could rebound, make a competent pass, and occasionally cram it on somebody's head.
The potential for it to all come together was so teasing, infuriating, and exciting at the same time, I couldn't help but get wrapped up in what he might be able to do one day do. His back-to-back steals on Dwyane Wade in 2012 might best embody him. Fierce, relentless, great hands, poor finish, an OK passer, totally lovable. I don't know what it is about that play in a meaningless loss, but it gets me fired up every time. I'll miss you, Shump.
Jonathan Schulman: I am going to desperately miss Iman Shumpert. He's the first guy since John Starks that I irrationally put every ounce of hope into. Aside from being a basketball player that was fun to watch on my all-time favorite team, he just seems like a kind and genuine person. Contrarily he was a real menacing live wire guarding the ball, and you could just see how he was dripping with potential. If he could only put it together all at once! Ah, I thought that for years. Sadly, injuries and perhaps too much responsibility overstuffed the burrito of his capability. My favorite "moment" is kind of a collection of strips and hounds against the Bulls and Derrick Rose.
MMiranda: Fave Shump memory is the night he was drafted. I believe Colleen Dominguez interviewed Spike Lee right after the pick was made, since idiots everywhere think Spike Lee is the Knick fans' mascot and that he speaks for us. Dominguez meant to ask Spike about drafting Shump when Landry Fields was already here but called him Carl Landry instead; then Spike lamented taking Shump when Chris Singleton was available.
Matt RW: I've always felt more personally connected to Iman Shumpert than any other Knick. I didn't start watching basketball in a serious manner until the 2009-10 season, so Shump was the first draft pick I experienced as a legitimate Knicks fan. On top of that, he's been the player closest in age to me on the team (he's only a few months older than I am) for the entirety of my fandom. Suffice it to say, I'm upset to see him go.
When I watch Shump, it's easy for me to imagine myself in his shoes; acting the way he acts, hanging out with the people he hangs out with, growing the hair he grew, etc. All of the on-court stuff was always secondary for me with Shump, though I held out hope that he would realize his potential and become the all-around threat we all knew he could be. But what it boils down to for me is that he just seemed like a cool dude and I wanted him to remain in New York for as long as possible. I knew his time as a Knick was probably nearing an end, but it sucks that it had to end right now, at the lowest of low points. Good luck in Cleveland, Shump. I'll miss you.
ChristianBaber: Iman Shumpert's departure feels like the end of an era, though it's only been a brief few years since he was drafted. Shump came to the Knicks with more than a little attitude and personality. I watched him a bit at Georgia Tech, but my first real memories were of the lean rookie loudly proclaiming, "Shump-Shump ain't touch you" in practice. I was instantly smitten.
Shumpert seemed like a perfect fit in New York. His dogged determination on the court meshed with his metropolitan demeanor off of it to create a unique celebrity the city could really support. He dropped a mixtape, Th3 #Post90s, and coined the Knickstape hashtag. He's not a star, and not yet close, but he looked the part. I felt a certain affinity for a young man my age with apparently similar interests. If I were a celebrity, I'd probably want to drop mixtapes and date singers too. He's struggled with injuries, and hasn't developed into the defensive superstar we'd all hoped he'd become. Still, it's tough saying goodbye to one of the coolest Knicks I've ever seen. I'd had high hopes for Shumpert becoming a Knicks lifer. I'm gonna miss that guy.
Share your own Shump memories and farewell thoughts in the comments.