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Report: Timberwolves tell rookies not to wear child backpacks over hazing concerns

Nov 12, 2013, 12:33 PM EDT

rookie backpacks nba

What has happened in the Miami Dolphin’s locker room with charges of bullying and over-the-line treatment of rookies has other professional sports leagues running a little scared.

We told you the NBA sent out a memo reminding teams to make sure that there is no bullying in their locker rooms, which was to include:

“…engaging in any activity that intimidates or threatens fellow players with ostracism or inflicts extreme mental stress, embarrassment, humiliation or shame.”

Where do you draw that line?

Lakers rookie Ryan Kelly gave a pretty common answer to me Sunday when asked what he had to do: carry bags, pick up towels around the locker room and that sort of thing. Nothing he considered out of line.

Another standard NBA “hazing” tradition is for rookies to have to carry their stuff in a backpack better suited for a preschool girl — a pink Dora the Explorer or princess backpack.

But the Timberwolves have cut that out, rookie Shabazz Muhammad told Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times.

Timberwolves rookie Shabazz Muhammad said team President Chris Wright and GM Milt Newton informed players they no longer wanted rookies wearing child-themed backpacks. Muhammad had been issued a Jonas Brothers backpack to wear on trips.

“They actually said they don’t want us carrying them, but I understand with the stuff going on with the football thing,” said Muhammad, who entered the draft after one season at UCLA. “They want to be separate from that. . . . Now I think rookie hazing won’t exist anymore.”

I understand the concern of the league and teams here, but honestly the backpack thing doesn’t offend me. A little embarrassing? Sure. But not in an over-the-line way. At least to me.

The dynamic in a smaller NBA locker room is different from the larger NFL teams (plus the culture around the sports are different). I have a feeling in a couple years things like the backpack will be overlooked again and return in the NBA. What teams need to watch for is the far more serious issues that cannot be allowed to even start. The question is where does that line start?

  1. mimaiheatdynasty - Nov 12, 2013 at 12:44 PM

    THANK YOU RICHIE INCOGNITO!!! Always thought hazing was dumb anyway. Probably thought up by someone who was bullied in school.

    • redbaronx - Nov 12, 2013 at 1:15 PM

      @mimaiheatdynasty – Really? You think the guy that got bullied came up with hazing? Or do you mean the bully who was DOING the bullying came up with hazing?

      • mimaiheatdynasty - Nov 12, 2013 at 1:51 PM

        Good point. I think the guy who got bullied created it tho…not the bully.He prolly wanted other people to suffer the same fate he did.

      • ProBasketballPundit - Nov 12, 2013 at 2:08 PM

        Bullies tend to create bullies. Dads that bully their sons have bullies for sons, for example.

      • redbaronx - Nov 13, 2013 at 8:05 AM

        @ProBasketballPundit – Point well taken.

    • Anoesis - Nov 13, 2013 at 12:38 AM

      Actually, miami, you’re righter than you know:

      An excerpt:

      There’s a pattern at work here, much of which resembles an old stereotype: The privileged jock who likes to make life miserable for opponents and easy targets. Indeed, a sign in Incognito’s locker boasted, “There are two things Richie Incognito does not like: taxes and rookies.” But it’s more complicated.

      In previous interviews with reporters, Incognito and his father indicated other students ridiculed him for being overweight as a child, especially during sixth grade in Glendale, Ariz. His father, Richie Sr., a Vietnam veteran, told that he gave his son advice: “If you let anyone give you (expletive) now, you’re going to take (expletive) your entire life.”

      It’s a common cycle for victims of various kinds of abuse, including bullying. Those who suffered often repeat the abuse themselves, especially when they accumulate power over others when they get older.

  2. 00maltliquor - Nov 12, 2013 at 12:50 PM

    Wow. Welcome to the new age. Soon the NFL will due away with tackling and everyone will wear flags. What’s become of this sissified world we now live in. SMH. Why don’t we give all our children 1st place trophies and do away with the 2nd and 3rd’s, regardless of actual positioning. How about we just get rid of W-L’s and just play these games for FUN while we’re at it.

    • savvybynature - Nov 12, 2013 at 1:42 PM

      Indeed, what is our country coming to? I mean, when grown men can’t force othergrown men to wear dDora the Explorer backpacks, we may as well just throw out the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. This is an outrage, and an important issue that we should all be concerned about. This country is doomed unless rookies start wearing Spongebob backpacks again! Call your legislators people! #sarcasm

    • 00maltliquor - Nov 12, 2013 at 1:49 PM

      I knew somebody would take it that way^. That was cute.

      I just don’t care to type out the bigger picture with what’s going on in society. This is a basketball site.

  3. returnofdamac - Nov 12, 2013 at 1:48 PM

    Back to the Louis Vuitton bag for bazz

  4. glenuendo - Nov 12, 2013 at 1:50 PM

    Wow…. I never thought that wearing a “Dora the explorer” backpack would be considered hazing.

    • Anoesis - Nov 13, 2013 at 12:32 AM

      Yeah, ’cause you see tons of six-and-a-half-foot tall, muscular guys carrying them around all the time. But only because their My Little Pony bag is in the wash.

  5. jcmeyer10 - Nov 12, 2013 at 1:54 PM

    Lol, I saw college athletes wear these backpacks by choice on the CU campus.

  6. tn16 - Nov 12, 2013 at 2:16 PM

    Is no one Gona bring up the Anthony Davis video. That was some of the weirdest gassing I have even seen ( WARNING : if u search for this video content may be offensive )

  7. themanwithnogame - Nov 12, 2013 at 5:11 PM

    The direction society is heading in makes me want to punt a puppy. And by punt I mean to gently caress the puppy while I whisper reassuring thoughts as to not offend anyone/thing.

  8. metalhead65 - Nov 12, 2013 at 5:17 PM

    you it’s gone to far when the pc police have invaded the locker rooms. these are grown men and professional athletes and not part of real work enviroment. to bad martin was to much of a wuss to stand up for himself but to just quit without saying anything to anybody about shows he is a coward with a agenda. funny how he waited till they traded for another left tackle before he had enough.. as for backpacks it is called tradition not bullying. so thank you liberals for ruining sports now that you have screwed up the country

    • 00maltliquor - Nov 12, 2013 at 5:57 PM


  9. themanwithnogame - Nov 12, 2013 at 6:30 PM

    Well when the liberals and commie’s finish the job at least we won’t have to worry about be bullied while we are all standing in the bread line.

  10. roanboon - Nov 12, 2013 at 6:33 PM

    The media is the one cashing in on the unfortunate hazing story. I need to just stop clicking on Incignito-related articles so I don’t add fuel to the media’s fire.

  11. eugenesaxe1 - Nov 12, 2013 at 7:55 PM

    I’d be upset if I had to wear a Dora backpack. Spongebob, Hello Kitty-those would be fine, but Dora is crossing the line.

  12. Anoesis - Nov 13, 2013 at 12:47 AM

    A typically knee-jerk response from people who have to listen to attorneys. Also because it’s a subject that’s been ignored for a very long time. Incognito has a history of being a prick for at least a dozen years.

    Many leagues will err on the side of extreme caution in order to head off any possible lawsuits down the road. If it means this kind of juvenile behavior ends, good. Unless they let the vets make the rookies wear those backpacks during games. That would be pretty funny.

  13. davidly - Nov 13, 2013 at 7:58 AM

    It’s amusing to read comments from people who are upset at the “sissification” of society or how a pro athlete is a “wuss” because he didn’t fight back. And what prompted this crybaby outburst? The disallowing of the carrying of girly backpacks. Hilarious.

    “But it’s the general trend”, they protest. “It’s unnecessary micromanagement and weaseling into workplaces where they don’t belong.

    Excuse me to interrupt the sound of the gerbil wheels in your skulls, but if and when a crime is committed, that’s one thing, but the professional sports leagues and individual teams themselves have demonstrated time and again that they have every right to manage the behavior of their employees.

    Where were you when they made wearing a suit when traveling mandatory? I’ll tell you where: You didn’t give a crap because that fits the manly authoritarian mode, whereas letting them wear what they want would be “liberal”. Plus, to you, bullies are okay as long as they’re not “thugs”.

    The irony is thicker than booty-fudge. Get over your backpacks conservative girly-men. There are much bigger battles; like the argument with your wives before you beat the crap out of them for waking you up from your drunken stupor after you pee’d yourself.

  14. muhangis - Nov 13, 2013 at 8:02 AM

    I’m not a fan of hazing, and the Incognito incident was definitely over the boundary line, by far… but this looks all in pure fun. I don’t believe *these guys even mind if I had to take a guess. Everybody still has the inner-kid in them it’s something that helps us all to have fun and enjoy life… as long as they are still working hard and keeping serious on the court, there’s just no reason to restrict these guys of their crazy hooligans that helps keep their brotherhood and friendship connected.

    Whatever they do, just be reasonable (from players to coaches and league officials._ Having an outright ban is just a tremendous overreaction, these guys are adults and let us lay a general trust in their judgment, and if one of them screws up (so far I can’t think of an incident/story in all my years watching NBA basketball) handle it accordingly.

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