Former Georgia Tech standout Iman Shumpert competing in ‘Dancing with the Stars’ finale

Iman Shumpert shined on the court for the Georgia Tech men’s basketball team and won a NBA championship with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

But now Shumpert has his eyes set on another prize: a Mirrorball trophy. Shumpert and his partner Daniella Karagach are competing the “Dancing with the Stars” finale.

The finale airs live starting at 8 p.m. on Channel 2 and Shumpert is counting on Atlanta to vote for him during the show. Fans can vote for Shumpert online or by texting IMAN to 21523.

Channel 2 Action News sat down with Shumpert ahead of the finale. He discussed his journey to the finale, what fans can expect and even the reaction he has received from his former NBA teammates.

Q: What has this journey to the Dancing with the Stars finale been like? Did you think you would make it this far?

Shumpert: “I know I wanted to make it this far. Early on, when I first saw the couple of scores, I didn’t think it was looking too good for me. But I soon learned the show is based upon your ability to improve week to week. The crowd and audience at home have ability to connect with you and really understand your story and want to root for you. To be pushed all the way to the finale, I just can’t thank viewers at home enough and can’t thank judges enough for having me in the competition long enough to make those improvements.”

Q: What makes you and your partner Daniella complement each other so well?

Shumpert: “On paper, we don’t. I think that is what became our advantage. It got talked about right away because I’m tall and she’s short...I never danced with a girl who was my height. I’m like so this is somewhat normal. I’m usually the tallest guy in the room unless I’m on the court with my guys. This doesn’t seem like way left to me. It doesn’t make me nervous. Once we got to a dance style that involved lifts, we soon learned that this may be an advantage.”

Q: Do you see the social media reaction to your routines every week? What has that response been?

“The response has been enormous. I think that instead of just giving a show, we have made people feel something every time Monday comes around. I think people watch the show for wonderful performances but they look for something different when me and Dani go. We’re inviting the encouragement to have us do things that you aren’t not thinking you are going to see. It’s worked well for us but it has also challenged us week to week.”

Q: This is the first time a NBA player has made it to the finals of Dancing with the Stars. Have you heard from any of your former teammates?

Shumpert: “I’ve heard from quite a few of them. Everybody’s been pretty supportive. Bron, RJ. Lou Williams posted for people to go vote. Kendrick Perkins, Isaiah Thomas. It’s nonstop. The support has been unbelievable from the NBA side. I can’t thank them enough. But they also reached out in private and leave me those messages, ‘Hey man it’s super cool to see you continue to doing all the things, continue to represent us and speak in a positive light.’ It’s been cool to have that encouragement and support and all these guys are outside looking in.”

Q: How much did you time in Atlanta prepare you for where you are now in your life and career?

Shumpert: “I’ll always love Atlanta. We still have a home in Atlanta. For me, that was the first city that I got to learn on my own. Atlanta was the first place, I looked left, looked right and I had nobody with me. I had to grow up a little bit. For me, Atlanta was turning me from a boy to a man and letting me make my mistakes and do whatever I needed to do to get my head on straight for what I would face as a professional. I will always feel super attached to Atlanta.”

Q: What’s one thing that basketball and competitive dancing have in common that people wouldn’t expect?

Shumpert: “They are actually very similar. In basketball, there is certain footwork that you use to stay in front of people, certain footwork that you use to get around people, a certain way you have to get around screens. All these things seem similar to me. It’s just small breakdown of dance moves. I don’t know how many muscles I have been working with doing Dancing with the Stars but I know these muscles are not used to doing what they are doing.”

Q: What’s your favorite routine of the season?

Shumpert: “Jazz routine just because we did Dark Fantasy and my wife was singing the vocals. That is always going to make it easier for me to give a performance when my family is involved with what I am doing.”

Q: Any surprises or teases you can offer about the finale on Monday? What’s your final pitch to the voters?

Shumpert: “For the finale, I would say all season, everybody has seen me go out of my comfort zone. For the finale, because we’re doing a freestyle, I’m inviting Dani out of that comfort zone with me. The style we are doing is something I have always wanted to do and Dani has never done. We kind of learned it together.”