Despite the height difference with professional partner Daniella Karagach, Iman Shumpert nailed the tango (309226)
Credit: ABC/Christopher Willard photo

Now in its 30th season, “Dancing with the Stars” has featured many active and retired football players among its celebrity contestants, but just a few NBA players. Only Clyde Drexler, Rick Fox, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Derek Fisher and Charles Oakley have taken to the dance floor. This season, Iman Shumpert has laced up dancing shoes and shown he’s got some skills.

“Just trying something new,” said Shumpert, who has played with both the New York Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets. “I’m not from a dancing background. I’m one of those guys that I’ve got to try stuff before I can even knock it and down it. I try and do my best to understand things. When [my management] hit me to be a part of the show, I didn’t have [an NBA] contract, so I figured, let’s try.”

In week one, Shumpert performed the jive, in week two the rumba and in week three the tango. This week’s performances channeled iconic Disney characters with heroes and villains. His professional dance partner, Daniella Karagach, has crafted dances that show Shumpert’s musicality.

“I definitely see where I can improve,” said Shumpert. “I’ve been watching some other dancers on YouTube, trying to figure out the posture and what about the dance is universal.”

Karagach was born and raised in Brooklyn, so Shumpert has shared some of his New York stories. “The basketball coaches I have had would appreciate her footwork,” he said. “No matter how much I hit a wall, she sort of smiles and we’ll drill it again. … I feel she picks some pretty cool moments in the choreography to let me have the stage to shine. With each dance style, there’s always a challenge of our height difference, but she takes on the challenge.”

His wife, singer-songwriter, actress and dancer Teyana Taylor (originally from New York City) and their two daughters have joined him in Los Angeles. As of now, Shumpert and Karagach have not danced to any of Taylor’s music, but he’s hopeful to keep advancing in the competition so that possibility arises. He also hopes there is more professional basketball in his future, so Shumpert continues to train. If he returns to the hardwood, he’s got new skills to show off.

“‘Dancing with the Stars’ really does help me with some of the footwork,” Shumpert said. “I hope it helps me get around some screens.”