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Detroit News reporter Chris McCosky treats hazing cavalierly–calls it “time-honored”

Hazing is just part of rookie indoctrination

First-year players can take comfort in the fact veterans also had to go through the ritual.

Chris McCosky / The Detroit News

AUBURN HILLS — The Pistons are making their first trip of the season tonight to Cleveland, and the four rookies have been put on notice.

“It’s coming,” Rasheed Wallace said.

He’s not talking about final cuts; he’s talking about the time-honored and mostly harmless tradition of rookie hazing. Thus far, the rookies have been hit with only minor inconveniences such as having to get doughnuts for the veterans and having to wear headbands with “Rook” written across the front for the open scrimmage at Oakland University. But Rodney Stuckey, Arron Afflalo, Sammy Mejia and Cheikh Samb all have been warned — the fun has only begun.

“They are going to take us out to dinner and everything,” Wallace said. “It’s probably going to be easier because there’s four of them. They can combine their money together so the tab won’t be as hard as one.”

Afflalo was puzzled by that comment.

“What money,” said Afflalo, who won’t get his first NBA check until Oct. 16. “There’s no money to set aside.”

Wallace doesn’t want to hear it. He recalled the rookie hazing he took from the likes of Chris Webber and Juwan Howard when he broke in with Washington in 1995-1996.

“I had to do a lot of stuff because I was the only rookie,” he said. “It was nothing embarrassing, just tedious tasks.”

There was the time, though, that he got an early-morning phone call from Webber.

“Webber was downtown (Washington, D.C.) at about 1 or 1:30 in the morning,” said Wallace, who was fast asleep back at the Wizards (then Bullets) training site in Maryland. “He called me up telling me he needed a ride. I got all the way downtown only to find out he didn’t need a ride. He was just down there with some of his homeys, laughing at me. I was upset, but there wasn’t nothing I could do — I was the rook. But I didn’t do nothing real heavy like these guys are going to do.”

Two years ago, the Pistons had a rookie guard from Puerto Rico in camp named Alejandro Carmona-Sanchez. Carmona-Sanchez had played with Carlos Delfino in Italy and thought he was above the rookie hazing. He got a little lippy with the veterans and he paid for it.

After one practice, he was grabbed, taped to a chair and tossed into the shower.

“They told us about that one,” Afflalo said. “I guess he was talking back. That’s not me. So far, they haven’t done too much to us.”

Coach Flip Saunders recalled one training camp with the Timberwolves where Kevin Garnett made the rookies get Krispy Kreme doughnuts before every practice.

“The closest Krispy Kreme place was like 35 miles away,” he said. “So Garnett made them get up early every day and take a cab to get the doughnuts and bring them back. He did pay for it, though, the cab and everything.”

Assistant coach Terry Porter remembers being asked to dinner by six veteran players early in his rookie season. Thinking the meal was on them, he ate heartily and enjoyed some wine.

He got his welcome to the big leagues moment when they handed him the bill for more than $500 — a pretty heavy payout for an NBA rookie in 1985.

Two years ago, Jason Maxiell had to carry Ben Wallace’s boom box to every single game. Last year, Will Blalock was the lone rookie on the team. But because he was such a good sport about everything, the veterans took it relatively easy on him.

“These are good vets,” Afflalo said of this season’s group. “They take care of us. They help us out throughout the games and the practices. It’s all family-like in the locker room. I am having a great time.”

By Hank Nuwer

Hank Nuwer is the Indiana-based author of Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. He has written articles or columns on hazing for the Sunday Times of India, Toronto Globe & Mail, Harper's Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times Sunday Magazine. His new book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press.

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