The New York Knicks took another PR hit when a second player this week criticized the franchise. This time it was Iman Shumpert.
Ex-Knick Baron Davis was spot on when he criticized the New York Knicks for having “no real plan” to succeed for the future. Another ex-Knick piled on (perhaps unintentionally) when he reminisced about his time with the organization.
When Phil Jackson took control, he sent the franchise into the tank by sending away a majority of the team’s veterans via trade. Jackson was criticized for acquiring very little assets in return. One deal was a three-team blockbuster involving former first-round pick Iman Shumpert.
Shumpert and J.R. Smith went from the worst team in the NBA to playing with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Since the trade, Shumpert has gone to back-to-back NBA Finals winning one last season.
After a gloomy beginning, the 26-year-old has a career most players would love. As Shumpert puts it, the Cavs “grabbed [him] out of hell.”
“I kept thinking back to my old teammates like, ‘Damn, I was hurt and we were losing. Now I come here and I’m playing well and the energy is great.’ I just felt like they kind of grabbed me out of hell,” Shumpert told Hoops Hype. “And every game was being showcased on TV and we’re winning. It was just crazy. I was happy, but I felt bad too.”
Shumpert should have felt sorry for his teammates back in 2014-15. They went on to become the worst team in franchise history, going 17-65. Carmelo Anthony appeared in just 40 pointless games.
Shumpert was supposed to be a big deal. Then, like so many New York athletes before him seemingly overnight the hype was gone. The team was willing to move on and according to the six-year veteran, that hurt.
“I was never the new kid in school or anything, so this was the closest thing for me to changing schools and going through that,” Shumpert said. “For me, it would’ve been cool if [things ended differently with the Knicks]. I was hurt when I got traded, so it would’ve been cool for me if I had at least gotten to play my last games with them. I was sitting out for like a month and by the time I got traded, it was a deflating feeling, especially with that season that we were having.
Shumpert has a championship ring, and he is making some serious money, but he still regrets the way he left the franchise that drafted him. He was traded when hurt and hoping to return and make an impact.
The Knicks were 5-32 when Shumpert was traded on Jan. 5. He’d already missed 13 games. The move was inevitable as Jackson was cleaning house, but it didn’t make it any easier.
“I felt like I didn’t get a chance to help get us out of the hole, you know what I mean? I just felt bad and felt like we had dropped a bunch of games. I felt bitter that I had to leave on such a bad note. I just remember the feeling [sucked]. It was like, ‘Ah, I’m hurt, we’ve lost a bunch of games in a row and then I’m traded.’”
Things were bad when Shumpert left, and now they’re even worse. There was nothing he could’ve done.