Dear Iman Shumpert,
First of all, let me congratulate you on being drafted in the first round of the 2011 NBA Draft. Prior to your stellar performances – both at the draft combine and during individual team workouts – no one could have predicted your meteoric rise up draft boards, culminating in you being selected by the New York Knicks with the 17th pick.
Now comes the hard part.
Sure, there’s a lot to look forward to. New York offers you endless riches, unparalleled street meat options, and I’m pretty sure your contract grants you right of first refusal on the unclaimed Knick City Dancer of your choosing.
Did I mention the free nightly JD & The Straight Shot sets? Don’t worry if you don’t yet know what that is, exactly, but you’re self-professed love of “rappin” is about to go by the wayside.
You’ve also lucked out with respect to your impending indoctrination into the league’s most player-friendly offensive system. In case you haven’t heard, Coach Mike D’Antoni – you can call him ‘Stache – loves him some athletic bodies capable of runnin’ & gunnin’ all night long. And then there’s his preference for players like you on the basketball court.
In all seriousness, everyone who’s anyone knows all about your freakish athletic abilities, but as you’ll soon find out, it’s the alleged deficiencies in your game that will receive the lion’s share of attention in this steaming hot cauldron we call New York City.
And so ultimately your tenure with the Knicks – and I hope it’s a lengthy one filled with championships, Cristal and runway models (in no particular order) – will be defined by your ability to deal with criticism, negativity and incessant over-analysis.
There’s an old Chinese proverb, I think it goes something like “with great draft position, comes great responsibility.”
You’re going to be judged not solely by the level of your play on the court, but also on the substance and tone of your comments to the media. Heck, really it’s all fair game now, so just remember what you’re coming here to do: win.
Dedicate yourself to proving the naysayers wrong. Never stop working on your game. Listen to and learn from the Knicks’ veteran players. Do not read the tabloids. Their purpose is to sell as many newspapers as they can by any method at their disposal, not to consider your development and/or adjustment to New York.
Oh, and one more thing. If the name Stephon Marbury pops up on your cell phone, let it go straight to voice mail. On the surface, listening to advice from a former Knick/Yellow Jacket point guard makes all the sense in the world, but unless you’re interested in selling Shumpert-Sneaks – and moving to China – you shouldn’t be pickin’ up what Starbury’s puttin’ down.
Capiche? That’s mobster for “ya feel me?”
I, for one, am very excited to have you here in New York, and I think your ceiling as a player can be limited only by the level of your work ethic and focus. So again, congratulations and good luck!
Oh, and have fun guarding LeBron James and Dwayne Wade. Preferably at the same time.
ps – xoxo