NBA PM: Iman Shumpert’s Vegas Vacation
Iman Shumpert feels like he’s in the NBA. The Knicks first-round pick is out in Las Vegas training with NBA stars at Joe Abunassar’s Impact Basketball League. He’s locking down guys like DeMar DeRozan on defense before going baseline and hitting mid-range jumpers on the other end. This is, after all, what an NBA player does over the summer.
But Shumpert was denied the chance to sign his rookie contract by the ongoing lockout, which means events such as Thursday’s union meeting left him on the outside looking in.
Maybe that’s why Shumpert has embraced the Impact league so much. The former Georgia Tech combo guard is reportedly paying his own way in Vegas, and since he has no NBA experience to compare this to, he’s treating it like the NBA Finals.
“I haven’t heard whistles in a long time,” Shumpert told HOOPSWORLD. “I just hope the lockout ends soon. I just want to play basketball.
The good news for Shumpert is that’s he’s learning the NBA game—not simply continuing to play ACC basketball. That means the 3-point arc moves out and the inside game can open up.
“I think I’m all right, little tweaks,” he said. “Just understanding spacing; trying to get off the ball earlier, be more efficient with the ball. Other than that I think I’m fairing well.”
As for the level of competition, Shumpert knows that he’s taking things more seriously than a lot of his colleagues.
“It’s pretty good when it wants to be, sometimes,” said Shumpert, who HOOPSWORLD’s Alex Kennedy reported as being the first player at the gym on Thursday. “Sometimes guys get a little lazy. You can tell guys are out of shape. Some guys are out of shape. Take a couple plays off, nobody is trying to get hurt right now. But other than that, the competition is good. People are going to go at you offensively. It’s great for me to work on my defense.”
Shumpert is loud, loves to laugh and jokes that he just wants “to be like Wes Matthews one day,” but he hasn’t just been fooling around in Vegas. He told HOOPSWORLD that it’s “too hot” to go out, so he just stays in his room with the air conditioning when he’s done at the gym.
The aversion to Vegas’ nightlife has also earned Shumpert some notoriety among the players at Impact. Now Shumpert is starting to hear the whispers himself and he’s proud to earn the reverence from such esteemed peers.
“I think I gained some respect,” he said. “A lot of guys out here, a lot of the older guys, wanted to see what I can do. Nobody really saw me fair against anybody… This is my first time playing amongst guys that have got a couple years under their belt, you know, in a collective area.
“I think I’ve gained some respect, turned a couple heads, hopefully,” he continued. “Nobody really knew what I could do. Everybody sort of thought I just came out there and was a hustle guy. Now that everybody sees I have a little bit of an offensive game to me, play with a little bit of an attitude, I think I gained some respect. But it’s all fun out here, everybody’s playing. It’s good competition, so I’m happy with my results so far.”
For now, Shumpert can only practice as the union members try and carve out a deal with the NBA. It’s not a perfect situation, but it’s hard to argue with the way Shumpert is spending his time. He isn’t concerned with what he can’t control. But his preparedness for the NBA has nothing to do with the lockout, so he’ll be anchored to the Impact facility until a deal can be reached.
“I can only hope for the best and pray that we can come to an agreement and we can play basketball,” he said.
(Editor’s note: Make sure to follow @impactbball on Twitter)
Say ‘Goodbye’ to Steve Javie
You can say what you want about Steve Javie as a referee. Like any official, some people have better opinions of him than others. Being liked was never part of the job description.
But much like Jerry West’s silhouette that Javie wore on his chest for 25 years, the man was an engrained part of the NBA—until now.
As Ric Bucher of ESPN The Magazine is reporting, Javie has retired from the NBA just as the officials inked a five-year contract with the league earlier in the week. Javie’s arthritic knee, and not his passion for the game, is the culprit, which is why Javie hopes to remain involved with the league in the future.
“I would like to keep a hand in basketball, as a consultant for the NBA or something else, but I also have the foundation that my wife and I started and I’m looking forward to doing more with that,” he told Bucher.
Javie, whose father was an NFL field judge for nearly 30 years, continues his work with the Javie Foundation for Charity, which raises money for abused and abandoned kids and the homeless, but still occasionally considers giving the NBA another season.
“I would like to stay at it and end it on my own terms, but in a way I feel as if I’m doing that in that I got to work that 25th year,” Javie said. “Adrenaline is an amazing drug. The two weeks after the season, the knee was so painful I couldn’t believe it. My doctor said it was because the adrenaline from the season had worn off. Every time I start to think maybe I still could do it, my knee has let me know one way or another, that I can’t.”
Javie’s announcement comes on the heels of referee Bob Delaney’s retirement after 25 years on the job. 71-year-old Dick Bavetta, sources told Bucher, is not going to retire and will referee for a 37th season when the lockout ends.
Mr. Metta World Peace is Ready to Take the Podium
Well, after a long wait, Ron Artest has officially changed his name to Metta World Peace, according to various reports including one from Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times.
“Metta” is the first name of that mouthful and “World Peace” will be slapped on the back of his jersey. Writes Bolch, “Metta is a Buddhist term that means loving kindness and friendliness toward others” and having dealt with Mr. World Peace on many occasions, I can say he is quite friendly.
HOOPSWORLD Chats: To view all of HOOPSWORLD’s upcoming chats, click here.