Iman Shumpert made a guest appearance on the HOT97 show, where he talked about several things from his career but also his personal life. He shared one of his favorite Kobe Bryant moments from his rookie season with the New York Knicks. It was a game at the MSG during the Linsanity times when Knicks were winning games behind Jeremy Lin’s insane performances.
Shumpert remembers he had a great game, especially on defense where on multiple occasions, he was assigned to guard Kobe. Kobe had a relatively quiet game throughout three quarters scoring 20 points but with a low field goal percentage, which was something that made Shumpert proud because he was able to steal the ball from Kobe.
“I guarded Kobe in the Garden, and I can’t remember how much he had, but I had multiple steals against him. In my head, I was thinking of having a conversation with my brother after the game and telling him how I stole the ball from Kobe.”
According to Shumpert, before the fourth quarter started, Kobe came up to him and told him he had a great game by giving him a gentle tap on the back. Shumpert immediately knew Kobe was about to go to work in the last quarter, mainly because of the fact Knicks were winning the game, and Lin was unstoppable the entire game.
“The fourth quarter starts, and Kobe says you had a great game. He said you had a great game, young fella. I’m looking like it’s 12 minutes left, what are you talking about. You didn’t say anything the whole game, and I’ve been talking shit, I stole the ball, I’m hyped because it’s Kobe Bryant. He didn’t say one word to me.”
Heading into the fourth quarter, Shumpert was hyped and ready to take on Kobe, but that is when he locked into the “Black Mamba” mode and proceeded to score 14 points in that quarter alone. He was making all sorts of impossible shots over the Knicks defenders and eventually finished the game with 34 points and ten rebounds. Shumpert said he never saw something like that in his life, and when Mike D’Antoni called a timeout, Shumpert didn’t know how to explain what was happening out there on the court.
“I’m locked in, and he came down with a shot fake, another shot fake and threw it off the glass, caught it, and threw it to the corner. I was like bro, what you want. Bro, you’ve been regular all game. And then he pulled out from 35 feet with that Steph Curry s**t before Steph was doing that. They called a time out, and Mike D’Antoni was looking at me. I said I guard everything and I guarded the first two moves, he wasn’t supposed to have a third counter like that.”
Luckily for the Knicks, Jeremy Lin had an even better game with 38 points and seven assists. The Knicks won that game 92-85, and people were witnessing the peak of Linsanity, which soon faded away after Lin’s injury.