Gorgoi Dieng and Shabazz Muhammad post with a lucky fan (Getty Images)
As we discussed at Ball Don’t Lie last week, the culture within NBA locker rooms satisfactorily prevents any sort of approximation of the behavior reported to come out of the Miami Dolphins’ locker room recently. Because pro basketball doesn’t foster a violent, destructive culture, the sort of chest-thumping and browbeating that Richie Incognito has been accused of would not have a place in the NBA.
Just to be sure, though, the NBA sent out a memo warning teams just how verboten hazing is in their league. The New York Daily News’ Frank Isola shared the details from the memo over the weekend:
According to the report, the NBA’s list of violations includes: any physical abuse or threats of violence; verbal abuse focused on an individual’s race, nationality, color, gender, age, religion, sexuality, etc.; destruction, defacement or theft of a fellow player’s personal property; engaging in any activity that intimidates or threatens fellow players with ostracism or inflicts extreme mental stress, embarrassment, humiliation or shame; and forcing an individual to engage in any activity or perform any task that violates federal, state or local law or NBA rules and regulations.
The report said the league also prohibits “requiring an individual to unreasonably pay for meals, travel, entertainment expenses, goods or services that are being solely enjoyed by others.”
And just to be extra, extra sure, the time honored act of mild rookie hazing has been put to bed by some teams. No longer are rookies going to be “forced” to wear children’s backpacks on road trips, as has been custom in the NBA for nearly two decades, with the Minnesota Timberwolves leading the charge. From Eric Pincus at 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."
Now, the NBA can’t completely do away with rookie hazing, because there will still be stuff behind the scenes that we’ll never hear or eventually know about. And it is worth mentioning that, as recently as late last month the NBA was actually promoting some mild hazing via their YouTube channel. Take a look:
Again, this is silliness that is nowhere near the destructive, ugly, and violent level that the NFL has been coming through with. This is because pro football is a destructive, ugly and violent game that maims the brains of the players that make the league billions, a “game” that millions of fans still somehow manage to swallow hard and argue away their fandom for in spite of years’ worth of evidence that points the finger at a league that absolutely does not care about the health and well-being of their players.
The NBA actually cares, and while handing Shabazz Muhammad a Jonas Brothers backpack isn’t really harmful at all on the surface, David Stern’s league is looking to dry up this slippery slope before it goes too far.
Don’t hold your breath waiting for Roger Goodell to do the same.
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