Iman Shumpert’s NBA career has spanned an entire decade. Shumpert was selected by the New York Knicks with the No. 17 overall pick in the 2011 Draft, and he recently reflected on his draft day experience on CBS Sports’ “Draft Day Memories: Presented By Jeep.” As a player that was projected to be picked in the mid-to-late first round, Shumpert didn’t attend the draft in New Jersey. Instead, he watched it at home with his family — a setting that was preferable to him.
“My draft night was better than going to the draft,” Shumpert said. “New York booed me when they picked me. It’s cool now, but it was not cool then. Because my family and friends were so loud… I didn’t even know I got booed. I thought New York went crazy how my family went crazy. When I found out the next day that they booed, it hurt, but it drove me. It was fuel.”
Some players enter the league as highly-touted prospects, but that wasn’t the case for Shumpert, who used the NBA Draft Combine to boost his stock prior to draft day.
“The best thing about the combine is you get to show people that you’re a grown-up,” Shumpert said. “I wasn’t highly touted like everybody else. I probably would have went higher in the draft, but they stopped working out with me. Nobody would take my workouts anymore. My invite to the draft didn’t even come until like a day or two before because I had climbed up through workouts.”
He may not have been highly touted, but Shumpert always knew that he was destined for the NBA — even when others around him didn’t see it as a real possibility.
“I had an art teacher tell me that .00000003 percent of people in the world make it to the NBA,” Shumpert said. “And I’ll never forget automatically just associating myself with that .00000003 percent. Like ‘I’ll be part of that then, and y’all can be part of that other side. But I know I’m going that way.'”
Not only did Shumpert defy the odds and make it to the NBA, but he’s also been able to last in the league for ten years. That’s no small feat. Plus, he was able to win a championship as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016, which was his main goal upon entering the league. “I came into the league for a championship,” Shumpert said. “I didn’t really come to be the MVP.”
Given the success that he’s been able to achieve over his career, Shumpert has some advice for up-and-coming players entering the league.
“I say for the young guys coming in, you’re going to get told to follow a lot of directions. Remember, they came to get you, and you can’t forget to be you. And remember, you love basketball.”