When Iman Shumpert collapsed to the floor in pain in the New York Knicks Game 1 loss to the Miami Heat yesterday, it immediately had the feeling of a serious injury. While charging up the floor, Shumpert juked Mario Chalmers, and went behind the back, and when he planted his foot to change direction, he immediately leaped in the air, and clutched his knee (video linked is not for the faint of heart). He had to be carried off the floor and back to the locker room where he was taken to a local hospital and diagnosed with a torn ACL in his left knee.
Losing Shumpert only added injury to insult (to flip the script) as the Heat were in the midst of a 30-plus point blowout over the Knicks.
Shumpert is largely considered the Knicks’ best wing defender, and had been playing an increased role recently, spending some time handling the ball and running the offense. Only recently had he been gaining national attention for his lockdown perimeter defense, but Shumpert had consistently been one of the Knicks best defenders from the start of the season. Mike Woodson once went as far as to call Shumpert a game-changer on defense.
Now, with the Knicks missing their best perimeter defender and one of their best ball-handlers, the outlook in the Heat series seems even dimmer. Shumpert had been given the task of guarding Dwyane Wade, and while no one shuts down Wade, Shumpert definitely had the skills to make life difficult for him – regardless of what numbers say, Tom Haberstroh.
The six-to-eight-month timeline for Shumpert could take him to October when training camp will begin, or to December, in the midst of the season. He dealt with knee struggles earlier in the season as well, which is obviously a worry on the Knicks’ minds. Shumpert is a highly talented player, but much of his game is predicated on his speed and elite athleticism – he measured a 42″ vertical at the draft combine.
But to anyone who watched Shumpert play this season, there’s no doubting that he’s going to come back strong next year. One of the few guys whose effort could never be questioned, Shumpert received unanimous praise and well-wishes on Twitter last night from writers and players alike, all saying Shumpert is one of the hardest-working, best individuals on and off the court.
From one of his biggest fans, I too wish Iman a speedy recovery. He’ll be missed.