SACRAMENTO – It was a rare scene outside of the Trail Blazers locker room on Monday night.
The Golden 1 Center is constructed in a way that has the Sacramento Kings locker room on the opposite end of the court as the visiting team locker room.
After the final horn sounded and Sacramento took a 115-107 win over Portland, Kings shooting guard Iman Shumpert was seen outside of the Blazers locker room.
Shumpert wanted to “have a conversation” with Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic, but he was not allowed in by team security.
The conversation never took place, at least not in the arena, but what led to the need for Shumpert to talk with Portland’s lead security guard to get to Nurkic?
For one, “dirty” screens.
Nurkic set hard screens at the top of the key to get Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum open to drive the lane. In turn, Shumpert hit the deck.
“I know in the first quarter, Nurk was setting screens and he was saying Nurk was setting some bad screens, basically. He was hot about it. He was mad about it and I didn’t see the screens so I don’t really know, but from what I heard he thought Nurk was setting some dirty screens,” Lillard said.
Shumpert seemed to take exception to the hard screen on the court and that was only beginning.
The Kings shooting guard would not give specific details on what led to the chippiness between he and Nurkic, but he did say we could all review the game film to get a better look.
“Y’all got the TV, you all can watch it. Review the game tonight,” Shumpert said.
“Some stuff happened out there that we needed to have a conversation about,” Shumpert added.
Shumpert was hit with a technical foul at the 10:23 mark in the third quarter.
Then almost two minutes later in the game, Blazers head coach Terry Stotts was charged with a technical foul for arguing with the referees on a non-foul call when he felt that CJ McCollum got hit while going up for a lay-in.
Immediately following the game both Lillard and Coach Stotts were seen talking to Shumpert on the court.
The only comment Coach Stotts would make in his postgame interview about the combative play on the court, was this:
“I think everybody felt like it was a chippy game, no question.”
Shumpert was barking at Nurkic throughout the game and even when Shumpert was not in the game, he was yelling from the bench.
Outside of the locker room after the game, the Blazers team security told Shumpert that Nurkic was still showering and he would not be able to come out of the locker room and speak to him at that moment.
Shumpert made his way back to his own locker room and was able to calm down before talking with the media.
“The game is over. I just wanted to have a conversation with the man. Nothing malicious, nothing crazy. I didn’t go over there and bombard the locker room. I’m sure everybody realizes we’re big enough to rush the locker room. We’re athletic enough to get in there. I didn’t go in there and bully into the locker room. I just wanted to have a conversation,” Shumpert said.
When Nurkic was asked about Shumpert he had this to say, “I’m not worried about him. He’s going into retirement soon. I just said what I said. I’m not worried about a guy who’s going into retirement soon.”
Shumpert claimed he sustained minor injuries to his hand and shoulder and was upset that he will not be able to play with his daughter.
Anyone who has followed Shumpert over his eight-year NBA career knows that he can be an emotional player who feeds off of other people's energy.
It was not just Nurkic’s screens that were getting Shumpert hyped on Monday night.
Shumpert admitted he fed off of Portland’s team security, which had spoken with the Kings guard as the game became tense.
“He was a little passionate and you become part of the game… I’ll take whatever energy you give me. I was having a tough time shooting the ball and you know, he talked to me enough I made the next three. That’s what we needed at the moment… After that we rolled,” Shumpert said.
Shumpert went 2-for-9 from the field. His only baskets were from three as he finished with six points.
Being a guard, Lillard said after the loss that he understands what Shumpert was going through, but he in no way feels Nurkic had any intention to be dirty.
“I think all of us guards feel that way, you know, bigs trying to give their guard an advantage, so they might lean into it sometimes, but I don’t think there was anything dirty there,” Lillard said.
Shumpert postgame just wanted to make sure we all knew this…
“Like I said, it’s for two men to have a conversation. It’s not for everybody to be a part of. Nobody to hype up or anything like that. It’s for two men to have a conversation that’s it,” Shumpert said.
The conversation -- to be continued…
Portland hosts Sacramento in the third and final meeting of the season on April 10th.
That’s a long time to wait. But that’s probably not too long to forgive and forget.