Mike Woodson Says He Likes Iman Shumpert Just Fine

Dan FavaleFeatured ColumnistNovember 27, 2013

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 31:  Iman Shumpert #21 talks with head coach Mike Woodson of the New York Knicks during a time out against the Boston Celtics on March 31, 2013 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Put words in Mike Woodson's mouth, and he'll scold you—then curse at you. Finally, sensing Woody's displeasure, the New York Knicks will cut off his contact with you.

True story.

Trade rumors and covert knee surgeries have put a strain on Woodson's relationship with Iman Shumpert. We think.

Pressed about his alleged disdain for the third-year guard, Woodson became irate and refuted reports that a rift between the two existed, via The New York Post's Marc Berman:

If I didn’t like him, I don’t think he’d be averaging 30 minutes on my ballclub. You got to look at that. I like everybody on our team. So that perception is bulls–t, if you ask me. If I didn’t think much of the man, he wouldn’t be playing. If I don’t think much of you, you’re not going to play.

Shumpert has started in each of New York's first 13 games and, like Woodson points out, is averaging more than 30 minutes a night. When The New York Daily News' Frank Isola informed us that Woody was being pressured by the Knicks front office to bench Shumpert in favor of Kenyon Martin, he moved J.R. Smith to the second unit instead.

"I’m going to play guys I like and think can help us win and who play hard," Woodson added, via Berman. "He’s one of those kids. That’s why he’s been a starter on this team since he’s been a rookie. That perception is bulls–t, if you ask me."

After dropping his second B.S. bomb of the interview, the team cut the session short. And, per Berman, they revoked access to Shumpert once he was asked about his future in New York as well.

Mar 21, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Knicks head coach Mike Woodson talks with guard Iman Shumpert (21) during the second quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center. The Knicks defeated the Sixers 82-79. Mandatory Credit: Ho
Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Looking past the fact that a bear hug, secret-handshake display or candle-lit lunch at center court would have been the better public relations move for both Woody and Shump, it seems as though these two are doing just fine—or rather, fine as can be when the team is 3-10 and sitting near the bottom of the Eastern Conference.

That doesn't mean Shumpert is a favorite of the franchise, though. Any rumored animosity just comes from a different source—like Knicks owner James Dolan.

ESPN's Stephen A. Smith revealed over the offseason that Dolan wanted to deal Shumpert after he appeared in only one summer league game. Those within the organization who were angered by the timing of Shumpert's secret surgery probably made up a party of one: Dolan.

For predictably childish reasons, it appears that Dolan is holding one of his trademark grudges. That he hasn't forced the Knicks to deal Shumpert for a bag pretzels after such a dismal start is a surprise in itself. Shumpert's recent struggles are not.

In a way, he's been the unofficial fall guy for New York's transgressions. Circling trade rumors aren't known for helping a player's performance, and the constant uncertainty that comes with waiting for an ax to fall must be unsettling.

Clouded future in New York aside, at least Shumpert knows Woodson doesn't secretly manufacture voodoo dolls with his name on it.

"He knows how I feel," Woodson said of Shump, via Berman. "That’s all that counts."

Well that, and winning, which the Knicks will hopefully start doing now that everyone knows Woodson and Shumpert are besties again.