By Jeff Case
Not to step on the toes of our venerable rookie guru and Rookie Ladder proprietor, Drew Packham, but we think last season’s rookie class might have gotten off easy in one regard. A season ago, when the lockout trimmed training camp to a week, teams had to hustle just to get ready for the marathon, 66-game season.
This time around, though, teams have the usual month or so of training camps to work on offense, defense, strategy … and afterward, rib their rookies in good nature.
The Suns might be the first ones out of the gate with documented proof of the traditional rookie backpack. For the uninitiated, the rookie backpack is not to be confused with Kevin Durant’s famous backpack from Oklahoma City’s 2011 playoff run. No, the rookie backpack is there for one reason: constant humiliation.
Rookie Kendall Marshall doesn’t seem phased by having to tote around a Justin Bieber backpack for the rest of the season. Just take a gander at what he told Suns.com:
Training camp is as much about building relationships and camaraderie as it is about hard work, fundamentals and conditioning. That’s why it was about as shocking as someone having a drink on Mad Men– not at all — that after Tuesday evening’s practice the veterans decided to have a little fun.
Under the direction of the elder statesman Jermaine O’Neal, center Marcin Gortat surprised rookie Kendall Marshall with a little something he can wear around the rest of the week.
“They told me after the first practice that they had a surprise for me,” Marshall explained. “My response was ‘good or bad?’ They wouldn’t tell me. They said ‘we have a gift for you.’ They pulled it out and it’s a Justin Bieber bookbag. I feel like I can pull off the J-Biebs.”
The Celtics have taken it a little bit easier (sort of) on their rookies of Fab Melo, Jared Sullinger, Jamar Smith and Kris Joseph, as the veterans made that foursome sing “Happy Birthday” to guard Courtney Lee under the direction from All-Star Paul Pierce.
We feel for this season’s rookie class, but it’s nice to have the full glory of training camp (initiation included) here.