Shumpert had racked up a dozen straight DNP-CDs for the Knicks – who at 5-31, were one of the worst teams in the league – when he was sent packing. Initially, he was hurt because he wanted to help New York get out of the hole it was in, but his bitterness quickly dissipated when he arrived in Ohio.
He joined the Cavaliers early during a 12-game winning streak, and helped them finish second in the East. They made it all the way to the NBA Finals, where they fell to the Golden State Warriors in six games. New York, by comparison, had only 17 wins that campaign.
“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,’” he told HoopsHype’s Alex Kennedy. “I just felt like they kind of grabbed me out of hell. And every game was being showcased on TV and we’re winning. It was just crazy. I was happy, but I felt bad too.”
The 26-year-old had tasted success before, having made it to the Eastern Conference semifinals in his sophomore year in the Big Apple. However, that didn’t compare to capturing a championship in his second season with the Cavs, who bounced back last year to avenge their previous Finals defeat to the Dubs.
Cleveland’s team culture differs vastly from New York’s, which was a welcome change for Shumpert.
“I was definitely ready to win, I was ready for that (kind of atmosphere),” he said.
Shump admitted that adjusting to a new team, especially midseason, is tough, but he was fortunate to join a group of seasoned vets, plus people with whom he had preexisting relationships, like Kyrie Irving. From his new teammates, he learned about maturity and professionalism.
“Each guy knew their body, knew that they had to come in and get certain work done,” he explained. “There’s really no in-between times or joking around or room for errors. Everyone pretty much has their head on straight and (is focused). … When guys come in, it’s to get their work done and there’s a level of seriousness.”
Shumpert’s averaging 7.8 points, three boards, and 1.5 assists this season with the defending champs, who sit atop the East, while the team he left is “messed up” and continues to plummet in the standings.