Iman and J.R. Pay a Return to the Big Apple


A game in which the Cavaliers had the lead from start to finish would not mean much to the average player. But for new players J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert, it was more than a game. Being traded by the New York Knicks back in January has revived the career of Smith. Iman Shumpert, who was injured before being traded, has also found a niche in the system in Cleveland. For both, this was their first game against their former team, and also their first game back in the Garden.

Coming into this game, not many people thought it would even be a fair contest. It was so bad that the game was pulled off ABC and replaced with Oscar previews. This was the first time that a Sunday NBA game was pulled and not replaced with another in the same slot. In fact, all of the remaining national games to be aired for the Knicks have been replaced, including a match-up between them and the Los Angeles Lakers on March 12th. This indicates what Smith and Shumpert left behind back in January.

Due to his stellar play so far in his Cavaliers career, most would assume that Smith would provide the bigger spark in the game. While that was the case, Shumpert also showed his talents. Not known as passer, Shumpert tied LeBron with 7 assists, including an assist that rocked the internet and the NBA world. Shumpert lobbed a pass to Smith, in which he finished with emphatic power on the reverse jam.

Smith did not disappoint in his return to Madison Square Garden. He notched 17 points, one point shy from tying the team lead. Smith also showed signs that he’s never been happier playing anywhere in his career. After his flamboyant finish, he looked for his teammate Shumpert and both embraced in a hug at mid court.

Although many believed that J.R. Smith wouldn’t fit in the system that was implemented in Cleveland, this embrace looked as if they were trolling Knicks fans showing they’re perfectly happy in their new surroundings.



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