WASHINGTON, D.C. — Iman Shumpert heard his name called and looked up from his locker. It was Carmelo Anthony, poking his head out of the Knicks showers.

“Shump, bring me that brown bag,” Anthony said, gesturing toward a toiletry kit in his locker.

Shumpert sprang out of his chair, grabbed his All-Star teammate’s bag and turned to toss it to him, but Anthony had already disappeared back into the showers. Turning to veteran Mike Bibby, Shumpert grinned and muttered, “That’s some rookie hazing right there. Not only do I have to get it for him, I’ve gotta bring it to him, too.”

Shumpert has been hearing his name called in a lot of unusual ways lately. This was Friday night, Jan. 6, after the Knicks called on the Oak Park native for 37 minutes of action off the bench in a narrow victory over the host Wizards. Two days prior, Shumpert sat on the Madison Square Garden bench nursing a cramp as calls of “We want Shum-pert!” rained down from the home crowd. And all this just six months after Knicks fans called out boos when Shumpert’s selection was announced at the NBA Draft in New Jersey.

“This is kind of an ‘I-told-you-so’ feeling,” Shumpert said. “The fans just didn’t know who I was. They booed Patrick Ewing in New York, and he’s one of the greats. New York just wants somebody that plays hard, and now they know that’s what I do.”

The city — and the Knicks coaching staff — have taken notice. Against the Wizards in just his third career game, Shumpert’s 11 points, seven assists and five steals overall helped spark the Knicks to a come-from-behind 99-96 win. After icing the game with a free throw with 3.7 seconds left, Shumpert was the first player approached by the throng of New York media. Did he think he might crack the starting lineup soon? Did it make him nervous to be getting so much playing time so soon?

Shumpert seemed taken aback by the question: “I don’t have a reason to be nervous. It’s just basketball. I’ve been wanting to be in the NBA all my life, and now I’m here. I don’t see a point in being nervous.”

So perhaps as surprising as the central role Shumpert is taking on the Knicks is the manner in which he goes about his business. Recently described by the New York Times as an “improbably confident rookie guard,” Shumpert strolls through the locker room before the game like a veteran, singing along with the rap music blaring from his headphones. “Ball, son!” he barks at a ballboy during the pregame shoot-around. After the win he jokes with equipment managers and feigns frustration when the Knicks’ second big star, Amar’e Stoudemire, asks to borrow his hairbrush.

Isn’t he at all intimidated, just a 21-year-old rookie who was not supposed to be drafted in the first round, on a team with two superstars in the U.S.’s largest city?

“No, I’m not going to be like that,” Shumpert said. “It’s not a surprise to me that I’m here. I’m not here for no reason. People don’t realize that. I worked hard to get here.”

Pointing to Stoudemire, he added, “He’s just a person, too.” He smiled. “He’s got a bit more money, though, but these guys don’t belittle anybody. They know I’m here to play.”

The season is only two weeks old at this point, but it’s already been a roller-coaster for Shumpert. He sprained his knee in the Knicks’ opener on Christmas Day — his parents made the trip from Oak Park to New York for the debut — and missed four games. In his first game back Shumpert went off for 18 points against Charlotte on Jan. 4 before suffering leg cramps, and this time the home crowd booed when he was taken out of the game.

Asked how it felt to be cheered by the very same fans who once shunned him, Shumpert said matter-of-factly, “I wasn’t paying that much attention. It didn’t matter that much to me. I want to win and I want to play if I can. I wanted to get back out there but with the cramps I just couldn’t.”

Shumpert’s early success, for which he was rewarded with his first career start on Jan. 7 (in only his fourth game), clearly comes as no shock to the former OPRF High School student athlete. Rather, he said, the two biggest thrills so far have been his first paycheck (a portion of his $1.5 million rookie salary) and first ride on the team plane (“It was so nice. I’m not used to that with the leg room and food and music — a big adjustment.”).

Shumpert said he hasn’t made any extravagant purchases yet and is living in a hotel while looking for permanent housing. His best friend, former OPRF teammate Troy Aldridge, is moving to New York soon to be his assistant, Shumpert said, “to help me get my living situation in order and so I can focus on basketball.”

There are other signs of Oak Park and his former life, too. Shumpert has tattooed on his left bicep a portion of the CTA’s Green Line — a star marking Ridgeland, his stop — so that he can show people how close Oak Park really is to Chicago, he said. He is in regular contact with former OPRF basketball coach Al Allen, and is working to get Allen to see him play live even before the Knicks come to Chicago on March 12.

On this night he was able to visit with his Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt, who is now at nearby George Mason. Hewitt had advised Shumpert to go back to school for his senior year — perhaps a thought shared by NBA watchers who doubted him — but Shumpert said that “seeing me now, [Hewitt’s] happy I made the decision I did.”

Though he is occasionally reminded of his rookie status by having to carry team bags on road trips, Shumpert’s stock has unquestionably risen since he was perceived as an unknown quantity on draft night. No longer booed, he is now recognized and encouraged around New York, he said.

The messages now? “Keep playing hard, keep working hard,” he said. “Bring us a championship.”

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