Being a rookie comes with certain off the court duties – basically whatever older teammates tell you to do. Last year you could see Luka walk around with a Hello Kitty backpack; that would be an example of rookie hazing these days. It wasn’t so simple in the past.
When you are a rookie, the league and the player’s union do as much as they can to prepare you for the change that will happen in your life. As a part of that, you go through a set of educations – from financial responsibility to safe sex. An NBAPA person would hand out each team a bag full of condoms, and the rookies got the privilege of carrying that bag on all road trips. Jrue Holiday was that rookie when he came into the league.
“The NBAPA would hire a health professional to come and talk to the teams, and she would bring big a giant bag of about 150 condoms. The rookie’s responsibility was to bring that bag to every road trip. Think of the conversation you have; let’s say you have a girl. Let’s say you have a girl, and she’s like, ‘Alright, why do you have a million condoms in your backpack??‘ You look sneaky.”Jrue Holiday, The J.J. Redick Podcast
If the bag were empty, rookies would go on “rubber runs” whenever necessary. Holiday remembered that one time, Elton Brand called him up at 4 am and he had to get some protection for him. J.J. Redick had those experiences as well. Redick also got a lesson in punctuality, a lesson that probably wouldn’t happen in today’s NBA. J.J. was late for practice, so they told him he has to sit in front of the entire team and apologize.
“I was fully dressed, I sat in the chair, and as soon as I sat in the chair, three guys grabbed me. They duck taped me to the chair, they stuck me in the shower, and the water was running. It was super cold, they let it cold, and they left me for like an hour. Everybody left practice, and the equipment manager found me an hour later.”J.J. Redick, The J.J. Redick Podcast
Holiday was shocked that Redick got that treatment, but he defended his teammates. By his admission, Redick rubbed a lot of people the wrong way and wasn’t a good rookie. He had a cocky reputation and didn’t help with his behavior.
Both Redick and Holiday agreed that that’s not happening anymore. Rookies may have to use a pink backpack on road trips and go on “rubber runs,” but getting beat up or stuck under a cold shower for an hour isn’t happening anymore. Not saying violence is acceptable, but as Redick concluded in the podcast – “humility is an undervalued trait, and sometimes you need to learn humility.”