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Rookie Hazing 101 - Reggie Miller would destroy rookies with various chores they had complete to earn his respect

Reggie Miller was incredibly creative when it comes to giving rookies various chores they had to accomplish
Reggie Miller

Reggie Miller

Rookie hazing is a standard process for all players during their first year in the association. Usually, what happens, is that every rookie gets assigned to a veteran who serves as a mentor for the young player but that mentorship comes with a price. Rookies are usually in charge of doing various things for their veteran players, like getting their food, coffee, newspapers, and many other everyday things. It's also not common for them to get humiliated by doing other activities in front of other teammates or even large groups of crowds.

Reggie was very creative in handing out rookie chores

In a recent interview for Podcast Inkubator, an NBA journeyman Bruno Sundov who spent 7 years in the league, shared what rookie hazing looked like when he played for the Indiana Pacers. During that time, Reggie Miller was the absolute leader of that team, their captain, and someone who was apparently very creative when it came to giving out rookies various interesting tasks they had to accomplish to feel like they were a part of the team.

Sundov recalls the season when he was with the Pacers, and they had four rookies on the team that year. One of them was a Slovenian player called Primoz Brezec, and Reggie made him sing the Slovenian National anthem right before the game started. On top of that, he made him and a few other rookies have regular dance and signing performances in front of the crowd that attended the Pacers games.

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Sundov recalls the season when he was with the Pacers, and they had four rookies on the team that year. One of them was a Slovenian player called Primoz Brezec, and Reggie made him sing the Slovenian National anthem right before the game started. On top of that, he made him and a few other rookies have regular dance and signing performances in front of the crowd that attended the Pacers games.

"Reggie Miller loved to do things differently for rookies, so he made Primoz sing his national anthem in front of 22 thousand people at center court. There were 3 or 4 rookies, and they had to make a performance for the audience, individually and together as a group. The game was about to start, and you saw them coming to center court. He wanted to see you free from fear and stage fright and that you get closer to the team."

Reggie had a pick on Jamaal Tinsley

Another rookie on the team that year was Jamaal Tinsley, who was frustrated with all the rookie chores he had to do, so he became hesitant to follow the rules Miller laid out for him. Obviously, Miller didn't appreciate Tinsley's disobedience, so one day after practice, he kicked all the basketballs into the stands and made Tinsley collect them one by one. When he was finally done, he did the same thing again, which infuriated Tinsley, and it was all because he didn't follow the rules Miller set out for him.

"Jamaal Tinsley, on the other hand, didn't want to listen, so Reggie was absolutely brutal toward him. Every practice, Reggie would come to center court and kick the basketballs to the top of the arena, high up in the stands. He would then tell Jamaal to go and pick up the balls and return them to the basketball racks. Imagine that, end of the practice, and he is kicking basketball all across the gym. Everybody was quiet, even the coach, because Reggie was the captain, so he must have had a reason for that. Jamaal would pick up all the 20-25 balls, and Reggie would kick them again all over the bleachers. Jamaal didn't want to bring him his donuts and newspapers; he didn't want to carry his bags when we were traveling. He didn't want to do it because he thought it was humiliating."

Tinsley would have a serious beef with Miller also because he didn't want to shower with the team after practice and games, so Miller changed the team's policy and added a penalty for not showering with teammates. According to Sundov, Tinsley paid around $250,000 in fines throughout the entire season because he refused to shower with the rest of the team.

Even though rookie hazing sounds horrible, and some veterans exploit the situation for personal amusement, a reward system is also in place after the initial period. Veterans take care of the rookie by giving them guidance and advice on the league's dos and don'ts and buying them expensive presents to show their appreciation if they did their rookie chores correctly. NBA is like a fraternity, and this process has been going on for decades and is an important aspect of getting initiated into a brotherhood that lasts for a lifetime. 

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