Before they became household names and superstars, all NBA players were rookies first, and Jalen Rose is no different. He had to go through the brutal rookie initiations, or baptism of fire if you want, from his veterans. Rose shared how Dikembe Mutombo ordered him around and asked for favors, including getting through a few tricky relationship situations.
Jalen’s rookie initiations
Jalen Rose was a member of the Michigan Wolverines Fab 5, along with Chris Webber, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King, and Ray Jackson. But Rose learned that it didn’t matter if you’re a star, MVP, or popular in college. When you enter the NBA, it resets back to zero, and you’ll be a rookie just like everyone else.
Rose was drafted by the Denver Nuggets in 1994. At that time, the team veterans were Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, Dale Ellis, and Reggie Williams, but it was Dikembe Mutombo who made his rookie year memorable. As part of initiations, Jalen had to obey Mutombo’s orders, requests, and favors no matter the time of day. Buying donuts or drinks was nothing new, but sometimes, it includes peculiar demands.
The chores allegedly included providing cab services to Dikembe’s girlfriends. While we may not know if it happened, Rose should be commended for taking it all in stride. It was a tradition in the NBA and a rite of passage from veterans to rookies. Although hazing is frowned upon nowadays, you can’t take away that it molded the rookies in a certain way.
Rose’s rise in the NBA with Indiana Pacers
Unfortunately, the two went separate ways. Mutombo played for the Atlanta Hawks while Rose suited up for the Indiana Pacers. It’s where Jalen’s career would make a mark. The sweet-shooting lefty stayed in Indiana for six seasons, highlighted by postseason performances with Reggie Miller.
He never made an All-Star team despite the Pacers having the best record in the Central Division in 2000. Indiana went to the finals but lost against the L.A. Lakers. The Detroit, Michigan native enjoyed 13 years in the NBA. Dikembe Mutombo’s lessons that aren’t taught in schools may have played a part in the longevity of his career. So Rose might have to thank Mt. Mutombo for that.