Lockout a chance to learn from vets
Locked-out Knicks rookie first-round pick and point guard Iman Shumpert will write a pe- riodic diary for The Post to riff on his offbeat tran- sition into the NBA due to the league’s work stop- page.
MY TWO weeks in Las Vegas at the Impact League turned out great. I got to know over 30 NBA players, got a chance to meet union president Derek Fisher to get insight on the lockout, bumped into Barry Bonds at the Venetian, watched a friend play black- jack at a table with boxer Victor Ortiz and finally played some basketball alongside my future Knicks teammate Chauncey Billups.
I couldn’t be happier with the Vegas experience, with league play ending Friday. I know most people’s stories from Vegas are cliche due to the gambling and partying, but this was a pure business trip for me. I chose not to stay in a hotel because I DO NOT GAMBLE. I rented an apartment off The Strip. Thank God.
I tried my first slot ma- chine to say I’d done it. I started with 20 dollars, played an hour and cashed out for 35 cents. Won’t be doing that anymore, even with my first NBA check, whenever that comes.
At first, competition was just mediocre in the Impact League, due to only having five players to a team and not everyone being in tip- top shape. Once teams began to stack up, it surely got intense — more techni- cal fouls, more loud trash- talking from my Vegas teammate, former Heat guard Damon Jones.
My experience with Chauncey was big. He breaks the game down, makes it simple and de- mands a lot out of everyone on the team. I plan to work out with him soon 1-on-1, and we will definitely see each other in a few weeks at Amar’e Stoudemire’s train- ing camp in Florida.
The best part of playing in the Impact wasn’t just com- peting against guys like O.J. Mayo, John Wall, Rudy Gay and Kyle Lowry, but it was advice and pointers given by all the older players and en- couraging words they gave me when evaluating my game.
I don’t think any of the veteran guys have called me by name. An occasional “Shump” here and there, but mostly it’s “Young Blood,” “Young’n,” or my favorite: “Rook”.
Vegas was a nice preview for me since the lockout has handicapped my rookie ex- perience and transition into the league. Heading to my hometown Chicago to work out this week. Until next time ...
Please send questions for Knicks rookie guard Iman Shumpert to Knicks beat writer Marc Berman’s Twit- ter account (NYPost_Ber- man) with the hashtag #askIman and Iman will an- swer them on a video link.
Iman’s Twitter: @I_am_Iman
HAPPENS IN VEGAS: Knicks rookie Iman Shum- pert says he has benefited from playing in the Impact League in Las Vegas during the lockout with future teammate Chauncey Billups (right). AP
Labor talks restart
By MARC BERMAN
The NBA and Players As- sociation will be back at it today in New York and possibly tomorrow to renew negotiations in the wake of Friday’s cancella- tion of the start of training camp and first week of pre- season games.
Even if nothing positive comes out of the meetings, the league likely will not cancel more preseason games until next week. For- ty-three preseason games already have been scrapped and the opening of training camps on Oct. 3 was post- poned indefinitely.
The sides won’t meet Thursday, and likely not
Friday, because they are high holy days on the Jew- ish calendar.
Last Thursday’s five-hour session produced little opti- mism. The league proposed the union take a cut to 49 percent of Basketball Re- lated Revenue — down from 57 percent. That num- ber and the owners’ insis- tence on a hard salary cap threaten the 2011-12 season. But NBA owners will not consider deleting regular- season games until the first week of October.
Union president Derek Fisher wrote a letter to players yesterday, accord- ing to ESPN.com, saying he believes a “divide” exists among the owners.