When Iman Shumpert was a kid growing up in Oak Park, he imagined winning an NBA championship. With a hoop in the driveway serving as the United Center, each scenario ended up with Shumpert sinking the game-winning shot.

“I would imagine situations in the NBA Finals all the time,” said Shumpert, who returned home for his fifth annual youth basketball camp (June 27-29) at his high school alma mater, Oak Park and River Forest. “I would announce the game while I played like, ’10 seconds, 9 seconds, Shumpert waves off Pippen, waves off Jordan, and he drives to basket, 3 seconds left, and shoots’.  I’d leave a few seconds on the clock, too, in case I missed the shot I could still get the game-winning tip.”

Shumpert’s childhood dream became a reality on June 19.

Although he didn’t make the decisive shot (that credit belongs to his Cleveland Cavaliers teammate/close friend Kyrie Irving), the Cavaliers defeated the Golden State Warriors 93-89 in Game 7 of the NBA Finals at Oracle Arena.

“It feels so good to be an NBA champion,” said Shumpert, an NBA All-Rookie First Team selection in 2012. “Dreams can come true. Sometimes during your path, it feels like it’s going to take forever to get there, but we got it done.”

Trailing the favored Warriors 3-1 in the series, the Cavaliers reeled off three straight victories (including two on the road) to claim Cleveland’s first professional title in any major sport in 52 years.

“When we were down 3-1, there were so many conversations and text messages between the guys,” Shumpert said. “We were very determined to come back and win the series.

“Last year, we fell apart physically with injuries during the Finals. We put in an unbelievable amount of work over the summer to prepare for this season.”

A week after winning the NBA title, Shumpert was ensconced in the familiar confines of the OPRF Field House hosting his basketball camp.

“A lot of NBA guys wouldn’t even think about coming back, especially right after winning an NBA championship,” OPRF basketball coach Matt Maloney said. “Iman mentioned a lot of his teammates are on vacation and enjoying it. He put that on hold to come back and give back to his hometown.”

The camp is one of Shumpert’s favorite offseason destinations, allowing him opportunities to mentor aspiring young basketball players and reunite with high school teammates and coaches. During the three-day camp, which includes a variety of drills and games, the 6-foot-5 guard is very interactive with the kids.

An annual highlight of the camp comes when kids engage Shumpert in a Q & A session.

“I tell the kids when I was in like fifth through eighth grade, I never had any really good players come back to talk with me,” he said. “I think just being here, taking a few pictures, giving a few daps [handshakes] and going through drills with them can hopefully inspire them to work hard and be successful in life.

“When an opportunity is given to you or presents itself, you have to be ready. And if the opportunity hasn’t arrived, you keep working until it does. I think one of the biggest things kids take from my camp is the importance of being competitive.”

In fact, competition and fun are analogous in Shumpert’s world.

“I’m all about competition,” he said. “I know there are millions of people out there playing basketball. There are a lot of players out there who do what I do in terms of being competitive, athletic and versatile.

“There aren’t a lot of people, however, who are willing to run through a wall. After back-to-back games on my day off, I’ll get in the gym and get some shots up. There’s a hierarchy about who’s allowed to touch the ball and LeBron (James), Kyrie, K-Love (Kevin Love) and JR (Smith) do most of our offensive stuff, but I’m always working on my game.”

For his NBA career, Shumpert is averaging 7.4 points, 3.6 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.3 steals in 25.6 minutes per game.

While in Oak Park, Shumpert also enjoyed an evening of hoops, food and hanging out with people from Opportunity Knocks at the River Forest Community Center. Opportunity Knocks is a nonprofit organization that serves young people who have intellectual and developmental disabilities through social, recreational and life-skills programming.

“I see them every year,” Shumpert said. “They have helped me more than I have helped them. No matter what their situation is in life, those kids always smile, listen, have fun and enjoy life.

“In high school, I got hurt one day in gym class playing basketball. I substituted helping kids with special needs for gym class. Like most people, I had days where I felt tired or didn’t want to go to school, but those kids changed my perspective. They are excited and they let the world see it.”

A man in full

Shumpert has been beaming with pride this year for reasons more important than basketball.

He is engaged to R&B singer and actress Teyana Taylor. She gave birth to their first child, Iman Tayla Shumpert Jr., on Dec. 16, 2015 when Shumpert delivered the baby with his bare hands in the couple’s bathroom. After Taylor unexpectedly went into labor,  Shumpert tied a pair of headphones around the umbilical cord while they waited for an ambulance to arrive.

Six months later, the new family celebrated an NBA championship together.

“One of my favorite memories was seeing my daughter touching the trophy,” Shumpert said. “Then she saw me kiss it and she tried to kiss it but just drooled on it.”

Mike Carmody, an OPRF grad and former player and coach for the Huskies who’s now the executive director of Opportunity Knocks, marvels at Shumpert’s growth on and off the court.

“I was just talking with Iman the other day about what a huge year this has been for him,” Carmody said. “He’s won a championship, going to get married, had a kid and always takes time to come back home.

“His camp is kind of like a vacation for me from work. I get to work with all the guys I coached in high school. But now they tell me what to do. It’s such a great group of guys who truly give back to their community.

The group includes Shumpert’s camp director, Quinn Peterson, personal trainer Adam Taylor, Phil Gary, De’Angelo Speech, Lamont Sanders and Jeff Dirkin, along with several other former OPRF basketball players.

Current OPRF varsity players like Cameron Gross, Jared Scott and Dashon Enoch stopped by the camp as well. All three are projected to play college basketball.

As for Shumpert, who celebrated his 26th birthday on June 26, life has already been a remarkable journey.

Shumpert’s father, Odis, perhaps best encapsulates his career.

“Iman went from college to getting drafted by the New York Knicks and becoming an instant millionaire,” Odis Shumpert said. “He played well in New York, got hurt, played well again and then got traded to Cleveland. He then got hurt again, delivered his baby, and won an NBA title.

“Iman makes good decisions, thinks about other people and appreciates his family. So many great things have happened to him and he deserves it.”

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Marty Farmer

The Illinois Press Association recently honored Marty with the 1st & 2nd Place Awards for Best Sports Feature for his article He's in an Oak Park state of mind: Former OPRF star Iman Shumpert returns...