During the second quarter of the Cavaliers’ series-clinching Game 6 win over the Bulls, Nikola Mirotic committed a flagrant foul against Iman Shumpert, clotheslining him as he attempted to drive to the basket.
The play seemed to motivate Shumpert, who scored his team’s next five points and finished the second quarter with 11 points and six rebounds to help his team begin to put Chicago away.
Afterward, Shumpert had what he thought was a private conversation with LeBron James about it. But reporters were in the locker room, and the comments which were overheard ended up being printed for all to see.
Shumpert was still miffed by that wrestling tactic after the game. As he was getting dressed, he was telling James “That dude better be cool. I’m from here. I got my family here and everything. He wants to get out safe, don’t he?”
It prompted a laugh from his teammates and James responded, “He must not know you’re from The Chi.”
The fact that his teammates laughed made it fairly clear that this was a light-hearted remark from Shumpert, and during the game, there was no retaliation from anyone on the Cleveland side for Mirotic’s hit.
But Shumpert wasn’t at all pleased that his remarks were made public; they could have been perceived to be legitimately threatening by some, and technically, they were made to a teammate and not to reporters, despite the media being present in the locker room space.
. @ChrisBHaynes on the record. i don’t like you. instead of reporting about the game i love, all you do is put out negative vibes to fans.
— Iman Shumpert I (@I_Am_Iman) May 16, 2015
Having been in NBA locker rooms myself for several years, I can say definitively that you see and hear all kinds of things that aren’t meant to be distributed for public consumption.
But at the same time, when reporting to the masses, if something strikes you as harmless that would add color to the game story, or provide fans with some additional perspective, then you go with it — because after all, that’s part of why you have that access in the first place.
In this situation, the reporter obviously felt there was no harm in sharing Shumpert’s discussion. I tend to agree, but obviously, the player who was quoted didn’t see it the same way.