Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
Depending on who's being interviewed, NBA initiation traditions elicit grins or grimaces. Expect laughs from veterans, sighs of relief from second-year guys and gotta-grin-and-bear-it smirks from rookies.
Such was the case around the Utah Jazz in their first week of the season.
TAKING IT EASY?
Utah's 2011 lottery picks, Enes Kanter and Alec Burks, haven't had it too bad. Yet.
Kanter bought pastries once and is required to hand out jerseys. Burks has to get Al Jefferson a Five-Hour Energy Drink before every game.
"That's my rookie hazing," Burks said, smiling.
The rookies did have to dance at the scrimmage and sing happy birthday to coach Tyrone Corbin on the team charter Saturday. (Jazz radio voice David Locke tweeted that the duo won't be getting a singing contract.) They're last on the team bus, too.
Added Burks: "It hasn't really been that bad because of the short season."
Or so he thinks.
Lugging around teammates' bags is a common NBA tradition for rookies, but Jazz players added a twist. They get children's backpacks for their youngsters, which explains why Gordon Hayward and Jeremy Evans hauled around pink princess totes last season.
"Me and Jeremy were pretty excited that we didn't have to carry those anymore," said Hayward, who has a dark blue backpack for NBA Year No. 2.
Another bonus to graduating a grade?
"I finally don't have to answer to 'Rook' or anything like that," the 21-year-old said. "It was a good day."
"I got lucky," Derrick Favors said. "I didn't have to do it last year."
The backpack part, at least. Before being traded to Utah, carried bags for Nets vets Joe Smith and Stephen Graham, and was forced to serenade strangers celebrating birthdays in restaurants.
"I had to do a lot of crazy stuff," he said.
Hayward took his rookie ribbing well. That don't-fight-it approach helped C.J. Miles tone down the wrath of one Greg Ostertag six years ago.
Instead of sleeping in until 8:30, the 18-year-old had to wake up an hour early to deliver shoes and a newspaper to Tag's hotel room.
"He'd be like, 'Thanks,' and throw them on the floor and go back to sleep," Miles said. "He did that to me twice and then left me alone. I did whatever he said. (Then) he just left me alone. It wasn't any fun (for him) because I didn't fight it."
Gary Payton was Earl Watson's "veteran," and The Glove kept him busy (if not sleepless in Seattle) in 2001-02.
"I basically had to pick him up whenever he called me, which was sometimes very late at night," Watson recalled, smiling. "I had to pull the bags off the plane. I had to always give him Gatorade at practice with ice. Where you going to find ice during the middle of practice? It's always something difficult."
But a lifelong friendship emerged.
"He was good with me," Watson said. "He ended up becoming my mentor =85 one of my big brothers still to this day. I'm close with his family. It's a bond that's built forever."
Unbeknownst to rookies, initiations aren't quite over.
"I think there will still be things coming," Hayward said. "But that's not really up to me and Jeremy. We're only second-year players, so I don't know if we have much authority."
- MLS Cup live blog: Sporting KC wins 7-6 in...
- BYU vs. No. 21 UMass live blog: Minutemen's...
- Utah Jazz: Jazz continue slide with overtime...
- BYU basketball: Hot-shooting UMass fires its...
- Former BYU star Jimmer Fredette likes coming...
- Utah State football: Aggie defense plays...
- Real Salt Lake: RSL's quest to win MLS Cup...
- Toddler basketball star, 'Trick-Shot-Titus,'...
- Utah basketball: Runnin' Utes come up... 101
- Dick Harmon: Are we spending too much... 60
- Commentary: Long-term success in... 50
- BYU basketball: 3 players record... 47
- BYU vs. No. 21 UMass live blog:... 27
- BYU basketball: Breaking down UMass,... 27
- Cougars in the pros: Austin Collie... 27
- Dick Harmon: How would BYU's Taysom... 27