NEW YORK -- After former Pistons shooting guard Rip Hamilton broke his nose twice during the 2003-04 season and started wearing a face mask every game, he got so comfortable with it that he called it his "Superman Cape."
Could a similar thing happen with Iman Shumpert? After spraining his right MCL against the Celtics on Christmas Day, he's making his return Wednesday night against Charlotte with a knee brace, which he's worn during practice. In the pregame locker room, the rookie addressed the protective device like it was his new girlfriend.
"I'm kind of a little attached to it," he said. "I'm getting comfortable with it. It just keeps me from hyper-extending [my knee]. It's got some guards on it. It's a big mental thing for me. I feel better with it, just knowing I've got a brace on. It will restrict some of the movement, but it will keep me from doing anything crazy to it. It doesn't limit me athletically, though."
Shumpert said his knee feels stable and strong and can "pretty much do anything without any limitations." The training staff tested it before the game and felt his cutting ability was good enough to give Mike D'Antoni the go-ahead to play him. Watching from the sidelines for four games, Shumpert knows one thing the team needs.
"I think I just come out there and bring energy," said Shumpert, who will be rocking a new blue and orange colorway of his adidas Mister Fly sneakers tonight. "I think just having one extra guard out there will help energy, more of a pace. I think I can help getting up and down. My wind might be a little affected, but in spurts I'll be able to get up and down."
For himself, his goal is to play hard because he believes that "as long as you play hard, good things happen."
So, Shump, does that mean if there's a fastbreak opportunity, we'll see a dunk against New York City product Kemba Walker and the Bobcats?
"You'll see," he said with a grin.
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