Nearly a month ago, Knicks rookie point guard Iman Shumpert flashed his infectious Magic Johnson-like smile dozens of times the day he was introduced to the New York media on June 24. Since then, that excitement about becoming a 'Bocker has energized Shumpert to take the summer very seriously to train, even with the lockout in place. Currently, he's down in Atlanta working out with fellow Yellow Jacket alum and New Orleans Hornets point guard Jarrett Jack. Soon, he'll likely be heading to Los Angeles to join some of his Knicks teammates on the court, including Amare Stoudemire and Landry Fields, who are both renting places out there during the offseason.
After his Hot-lanta workout yesterday afternoon, Shumpert jumped on the phone with me to talk about his summer training, pick-up games, his new-found fame, interacting with fans on Twitter, planking and his favorite lifestyle picks. We started the conversation off with the upcoming (potential) season. Will Shumpert be studying abroad? Read on.
Zwerling: For someone like yourself, there's so much excitement about not only being drafted, but coming to New York City, the epicenter of basketball. But then the lockout happens. How does that change your momentum thinking about next season?
Shumpert: It doesn't. I'm preparing so that just in case the lockout ends tomorrow, I'm going to be ready.
JZ: Obviously the overseas thing is heating up a bit. Would you be interested in exploring that if there's an extended lockout?
IS: Right now, I'm just focusing on staying [in Atlanta]. I love to be here. But if it comes up, where my agent, [Happy Walters], gives me advice to look into it, then it'll be something I'll look into. But right now, I'm focusing on playing basketball here.
JZ: If there is a season, who are you most excited to play against? I know you're a defensive guy.
IS: Just from watching and seeing all those guys play, I want to go against everybody. It's going to be big for me to finally play against D-Rose, to finally be able to match up with a guy like Dwyane Wade or Russell Westbrook.
JZ: Have you gotten a chance to see the MSG renovations?
IS: I saw it when it was under construction, but I haven't seen any of the [recent] progress or anything. I'm really excited about it.
JZ: How has your life changed in the last month since becoming a Knick?
IS: A lot more people know me. There's a lot more people to interact with, like on Twitter. It's been fun. I think the biggest change is just knowing there's a city behind me now and it's a big responsibility, so you just want to work and get better and better every day.
JZ: What are some of the things you're hearing from fans on Twitter?
IS: The fans say, "Make sure to work hard." I definitely get a lot of advice. If I ever tweet something like "At home, chillin, just hanging around," guys are always saying, "Go get some shots up. Do this or that." So it's fun. Sometimes I even, spur of the moment, might do just that because somebody said to. It just feels good to have a city that just wants you to keep working to get better, and wants you to be a part of something so special.
JZ: Have you posted any planking photos?
IS: [laughs] I got one of me planking that I put up in the weight room, and Jarrett did a dumbbell plank. It's always funny to go on [Twitter] to see what planks people do. I can't do that stuff [laughs].
JZ: So how's training going with Jarrett?
IS: It's going well. Jarrett's a great guy to work out against. He's ultra competitive just like myself, so every drill is tough; we're always going hard. He's a guy who pushes me, and I try to do my best to push him. I think we feed off each other well.
JZ: He's obviously a former Yellow Jacket like yourself. When did you guys first link up?
IS: Before I even got to [Georgia] Tech, I was already talking to Jarrett. He's got good advice. He tries to help you so you don't make mistakes that he made. He's just a humble guy; he's just a great guy to be around.
JZ: What kind of advice has he given you to get you ready for the NBA game?
IS: Well, the first thing he told me was, "The first game you're going to be nervous" [laughs]. He said, "It's different at first, but once your body makes the adjustment, you get used to it; you'll be fine." I think that's something I definitely needed to hear.
JZ: What are you working on as far as skills development goes?
IS: I always start off with some ball-handling, make sure I get a ton of shots up, shots off the dribble. I'm always working on the free throw line. Also, I'm doing things here and there for conditioning, just trying to keep in shape. I even get burn with old teammates over at Tech or try to get together with a bunch of pros and play in open gyms. I might end up playing in the Atlanta Pro-Am a little bit. Everything helps right now.
JZ: Do you have any vacations planned?
IS: I might go down to IMG [in Bradenton, Florida] and train for a week there before going out to LA and train with some of the Knicks guys. But right now, that would be my vacation, just going down to Florida and being able to walk the beach and then of course going to LA. That's a city I haven't really gotten to appreciate. I think I'm also going to come out to [New York City]. My cousin actually just moved out there, and a close friend from college is having a birthday out there, so I might come out there. I just gotta find a gym to work out in [laughs].
JZ: Have you been back home to Oak Park, Illinois, at all?
IS: Yeah, I went back home for a little bit, but even with my old high school teammates, going home and then actually being on vacation never happens. It just turns into more pick-up games [laughs]. All my high school teammates are big trash talkers, so it's always fun to go home and play with those guys.
JZ: I assume because you're a Knick now, they probably come at you a little harder, right? Are they talking more trash to you?
IS: Oh, definitely. It got a lot worse, but it's something that's fun. It's something that I love doing. I'm never going to complain about playing basketball.
JZ: Do you have a nickname on the Chicago playgrounds?
IS: Nah, nah. I don't.
SHUMPERT'S SUMMER STYLE
JZ: So what tunes are you jamming to this summer?
IS: Right now, it's all about Wale. His whole "Ambition" [album] is about to come out. My favorite song is "Base Head" right now. But other than that, Jay-Z and Kanye. I just heard them on the radio. I'm getting excited about the ["Watch the Throne"] album.
JZ: What's the last movie you saw?
IS: I actually saw "Horrible Bosses" [on Wednesday]. It was good. It had a whole lot of funny moments in it.
JZ: What fashion do you like to rock off the court?
IS: I'm a big-time sneakerhead. Right now, I've got like 40 to 50 [pairs] with me. I like anything from Supras to Jordans to Air Max. I'm sort of all over the place. I love Foamposites. I have the original Pennys [from 1997]. I have the copper ones, I have the blue ones, I have the pearls; I usually play in Foamposites. I like to wear Rocksmith, True Religion, Rock & Republic. I love everything; I like to shop.
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