The NBA is all about rivalries. East vs. West. Bird vs. Magic. Jordan vs. Jordan's gambling problem. Last year's season was a big preamble to a Lebron/Durant, Heat/Thunder NBA Finals. This year, there's a new rivalry a-brewing in the NBA: Iman Shumpert vs. Norris Cole, A.K.A. those two guys with the flat tops.
The Shump/Cole battle goes much deeper than their follicle roots. They were in the same draft class: Shump was the #17 overall pick, while Cole was #28. Cole and Shump play for the #1 and #2 teams in the East respectively. They're both guards.
But in nearly every individual criterion we can analyze, Shump comes out on (flat) top. In terms of contributions to his team – both on and off the court – Shump is the winner. He also released a mixtape this season with a Knicks-themed song, and people are already wondering whether he's the best rapper-athlete of all-time. While Cole had both a ring and the flat top first, he doesn't hold a candle to Iman Shumpert in the Battle of the Flat Tops.
Cole has three things going for him. He was on a NBA Championship team, was the flat top pioneer, and was the salutatorian of his high school senior class. The salutatorian title is the only thing I won't knock him for. That's awesome. He's an actual example of a scholar-athlete. Way to go, Norris.
However, while Norris Cole's championship ring will never disappear, I feel confident his stat line in the Heat's playoff run will fade nicely into obscurity. For reference, that's 8.9 minutes, 1.8 points, and a 32.4 FG% average over 19 games. Looking at those numbers, we can deduce he failed to play a single minute in four of the Heat's playoff games. It's safe to say the word 'integral' could never be used to describe Norris Cole on the Heat.
As far as the flat top goes, any points Norris Cole gets for having it first are immediately negated by the difference in height. Look at that! That's over an inch of difference. Cole's flat top could be accidental. Shump's is a masterpiece.
What else does Shump have going for him over Cole? We already mentioned the mixtape. Check out the Knickstape anthem here:
Oh, you don't know the term "Knickstape?" Shump coined it. It describes the motley crew (mixtape) of the Knicks roster, of which Shump is the youngest. By five years. Yet despite being the kid on the team, he's at its spiritual center.
That's Shump leading the huddle at a Knicks away game ... while he was injured. Let's take a second to unpack that sentence.
1. Iman Shumpert traveled to every away game when he was injured. I know lots of guys that don't show up for home games if their pinky toe is bothering them.
2. He leads the huddle. When he's not playing. And when he's young enough to be Kurt Thomas's son. And what did Shump do when he came back from injury? He started. Shump loves his team, and his team loves him.
Beyond the obvious reasons dictated by my Knick fandom, I really hope Shump gets the ring this year so everything he stands for will be validated. We could all learn a lesson or two from the wisdom in that 'do.