Questionable haircut aside, the dude is raw emotion (and athleticism). That makes for an interesting on-court presence, but it also makes for a great interview. He doesn’t shy away from the tough questions nor does he feel the need to sugarcoat anything.
His latest interview with Hoopsworld was indicative of exactly that.
While discussing the New York Knicks and their championship window, Shumpert was adamant that the team didn’t do its job last season, as transcribed by Sam Spiegs of The Knicks Blog:
“We didn’t do our job last year,” Shumpert said, “We got knocked out in the second round and we shouldn’t have. They have every right to criticize us, but we’re worried about our locker room. The Knicks are worried about the Knicks, and we’ve got to worry about improving. We know what we got to do.”
Credit Shumpert for telling it like it is and actually seeming something other than content with how the Knicks’ season ended. I would never accuse Carmelo Anthony and company of being complacent, but a large portion of the team sure seemed satisfied with how last season ended. Like merely getting out of the first round was enough.
But it’s not. New York has gone four decades without a championship and last season was considered its best chance at making the kind of noise it hadn’t in years. Derrick Rose was out for the Chicago Bulls, Rajon Rondo for the Boston Celtics and the Brooklyn Nets weren’t what they are now.
Everything has changed since, though. Brooklyn, Chicago and the Indiana Pacers all got better. Much better. And the Miami Heat are still the Miami Heat. That’s always going to be unsettling for opponents. As for the Knicks, well they brought in Metta World Peace, Beno Udrih and Andrea Bargnani in addition to re-signing Pablo Prigioni and J.R. Smith. Most tend to think that’s not enough.
Shumpert doesn’t want to hear it. He knows the Knicks need to worry about the Knicks, not what everyone else is doing. And he’s right. Had the Nets and Pacers not had the offseasons they had, and Rose was not projected to return, New York’s summer moves look pretty damn good.
More importantly, there’s a reason the NBA plays the games. Nothing is etched in stone this time of year. Absolutely nothing.
The Nets haven’t earned the right to be called Atlantic Division champs; the Knicks still have an opportunity to defender their crown (I believe they will). Remember that, because something tells me Shumpert does. Rightfully so, he wasn’t alright with how the season ended. He expected more, as did most of us. The notion that we should now expect less because of how the East is structured is then insane.
Just because the conference is a little deeper and a few teams a little better doesn’t mean the Knicks shouldn’t still be eyeing a title. Can they actually win one? Doubtful, but they’re still a 50-win team. Or at least, they should be.
Provided they do what Shumpert knows they couldn’t during the playoffs—their job.
Dan Favale is a firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His musings can be found at Bleacherreport.com in addition to TheHoopDoctors.com. Follow @danfavale on Twitter for his latest posts and all things NBA.