Before the McDonald’s Black & Positively Golden ‘Beyond the Court” panel at Morgan Manufacturing in Chicago I on Friday afternoon as part of the kickoff of NBA All-Star Weekend 2020. Where there was a panel discussion with Ervin “Magic” Johnson, Kenny “The Jet” Smith and Iman Shumpert, I got a chance to very briefly chat with Iman, who’s from the Chicago area himself.
Nello for TheHipHopDemocrat.com: Hey Iman, my name is Nello Rubio and I’m with TheHipHopDemocrat.com. You obviously being from the area. Oak Park, specifically. Me I grew up a West suburban kid myself, close by Oak Park and in Forest Park. What do you think it’s like for other Chicago area kids growing up to see somebody like you playing in the NBA? Not only playing in the NBA, but to have a pretty solid career that includes winning a championship in 2016. As somebody to kind of look up to see hey I can make it too.
Iman Shumpert: I don’t know what looking up to me does. I know when I come back and do camps though. When I come back and do community stuff. When I come back to just see my Mom and run into people in the grocery store. I think I finally get to see the effect then. As far as being influential. I feel we have always had from the Chicagoland area that have made it to where we wanted to go. For me in particular I think Oak Park has never seen it. So that’s a special place for me when I come back home there. To get to give back to the community and to show kids to get to where I’m at. It makes it seem not so far-fetched and far away. With me coming back home and being able to show them that this is where I want to go and I can reach out and touch them. You don’t have to have security and that’s the bigger influence. That’s the bigger win in this position right now. I know it means the world to them and it meant the world to me growing up to know that guys from Chicago are respected in the league. You know it gets you a couple of points just saying, ‘You a Chicago kid.’ That you came from Chicago basketball. I know it means a lot to them not only being from the Chicagoland, but to be from Oak Park.
Nello: Yeah, I actually went to St. Joseph High School myself. Which I’m sure you know is one of the many high schools here with a rich basketball history. From the late great Coach Pingatore to Isaiah Thomas. So you think that is one example along with all the players that have come from here that shows that Chicago really is the Mecca of basketball like a lot of people say?
Iman Shumpert: Yes, of course it’s. Granted I’m biased cause I’m a Chicago kid. I am not going to tell you another city is the Mecca. If they are they can come and play us for it. Play a 5-on-5 for who is the Mecca of basketball.
Nello: Obviously you have had a pretty solid NBA career. But have also gotten a little bit into Hip-Hop yourself. One of the few players that have made a good transition into that. How do you think the transition for that has been for you?
Iman Shumpert: It’s not a transition. I actually just turned down a deal with Houston. I don’t feel I’m done playing basketball yet. So it’s not really a transition cause I’ve the rapping my whole life. It wasn’t something I got to the league and then started doing. You ask people from around here, from Chicago that know me. They going to be like, “Yeah he been rapping.” They thought I would make it rapping before hooping. Like I said before nobody from Oak Park went to the NBA. So to them the goal of rapping worked better than basketball. So they were like you will probably do that before that. It has been fun to me though. As far as feeling a transition about it. I’ve never felt that I’ve needed a presentation about rap. For me it’s not a gimmick. Like a new interest. I’ve got notebooks full of music and hard drives full of songs. It’s just that now I’m choosing to send it out to the world.
Nello: Alright, thanks Iman it was nice to meet you and hopefully we can not only hear new music from you. But see you back on the court again too.
Iman Shumpert: No problem and yes who knows. Like I said I turned a deal with the Rockets down, so perhaps you will eventually again.