Best NBA Rookie Hazing Stories This Season

Bryant KnoxFeatured ColumnistJanuary 15, 2013

Best NBA Rookie Hazing Stories This Season

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    The 2012-13 NBA season has seen its fair share of storylines, and in a year full of surprises, the good old tradition of rookie hazing has gone virtually unnoticed.

    It’s true that the class of 2012 has had it relatively easy compared to those who came before them, but that doesn’t mean they’ve been overlooked by their veteran teammates.

    From the classic tricks of the past to the culturally innovative pranks of today, we’ve seen a handful of rookies pay their dues, and it appears that the tradition of hazing hasn't disappeared just yet.

Portland Trail Blazers

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    The Portland Trail Blazers may be a young team, but they certainly know how to welcome their rookies to the big leagues.

    Fifth-year forward Nicolas Batum shared this picture via Twitter early in the year of point guard Damian Lillard and center Meyers Leonard wearing bright pink backpacks. Lillard was given "Hello Kitty" while Leonard is rocking what appears to be some sort of Barbie.
     
    But that wasn't it for the Trail Blazers' prospects. At the team's annual Fan Fest, Lillard and Leonard—plus the rest of the rookies—were asked to stand in the middle of the court and perform arguably the most overused rookie-hazing dance to date—The Dougie.
     
    Lillard actually showed off a decent array of moves, but not before the home crowd caught a comedic glimpse of some of the most awkward dances you're bound to see in an NBA arena.

Washington Wizards

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    The Washington Wizards only have one rookie on their squad, so while you'd think Bradley Beal was getting hit hard with the first-year hazing, he seems to have escaped relatively unscathed at this point in the season.

    Beal mentioned before the year that veteran big man Nene' refused to call him by his name, and that "rookie" had been assigned as his given alias. This looked like a sign of things to come, but the extent of his initiation appears to be tying and un-tying the shoes of Trevor Ariza.
     
    According to Sarah Kogod of The Washington Post, Beal was asked to tie the shoe of Ariza. When Beal commented that the forward's shoes were already tied, Ariza responded by simply saying, "Un-tie it."
     
    If this is the worst of it for Beal, he's doing well for himself in Washington.

Golden State Warriors

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    The year 2012 will go down as the year of "Gangnam Style," and the Golden State Warriors took full advantage when it came to embarrassing their rookies.

    In this video, we see a number of fantastic solo performances—fantastic being used loosely, of course. Draymond Green sings "Lean on Me," Rick Jackson belts out "I Believe I Can Fly" and Festus Ezeli goes classic karaoke with his rendition of "I Want it That Way."

    But what we all will remember from the preseason performance is the group session of the now-classic Gangnam Style dance.

    The Warriors' rookies showed off their moves, and with their fans both on the court and in the crowd, they made sure to leave a lasting impression for those who have supported them from the beginning of the season.

Phoenix Suns

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    Goofy backpacks have become a rite of passage when it comes to rookie hazing, but Phoenix Suns rookie Kendall Marshall found himself the victim of a classic prank with a modern twist.

    If 2012 was truly the year of Psy and Gangnam Style, Justin Bieber wasn't too far behind. Marshall learned that quickly, as he found himself wearing a book bag with the pop icon prominently displayed for all to see.

    According to Marshall (via PhoenixSunsVideos on YouTube), he was promised a surprise after practice. His surprise came in the form of his new black and purple backpack, and while he had other options, Justin Bieber was the one he felt he could best pull off.

    Marshall said that his plan was to make it a fashion statement, and while he wouldn't be the first player to wear a backpack everywhere he went, he might be the first—and last—to show off Mr. Bieber day in and day out. 

New York Knicks

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    It's no secret that NBA players love their outfits. Whether a player is getting off the bus before a contest or sitting down to a post-game press conference, these athletes put thought into what they wear, and they make sure that they're looking their best in the eyes of the general public.

    New York Knicks rookie Chris Copeland may or may not be the same way, but the team forced him to wear some unconventional apparel on the way back from a West Coast road trip.

    Veteran guard J.R. Smith did Copeland the courtesy of posting this picture on Instagram. The rookie forward is seen wearing pink pajamas that appear to be decorated with hearts and teddy bears.

    The other thing to note about this image is the look on Copeland's face. A still frame of one moment in time tells us very little about the entire situation, but if the look on his face is any indication, the big man is ready to get out of his get-up and back into his everyday attire.

Cleveland Cavaliers

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    Rookie hazing is practiced by veterans who want to welcome new guys to the roster in their own unique way.

    For the Cleveland Cavaliers, it doesn't get more veteran than a former point guard turned head coach, and Byron Scott made sure to get in on the action when it came to the first-year pranks.
     
    According to ESPN's Nick Friedell, Scott gave each of his rookies baby dolls and pink strollers before a December matchup against the Chicago Bulls. Dion Waiters, Tyler Zeller and Kevin Jones were the lucky recipients.
     
    In the same article, Bulls point guard Nate Robinson talks about how he doesn't make players wear pink backpacks or carry babies, but that he'll put the rookies in charge of making sure the veterans have soap and deodorant as a way of respecting those who have been around the league for a while.
     
    However teams decide to do it, rookie hazing is a tradition, and as long as it stays fairly benign, it doesn't look as if it's going anywhere any time soon.