Report: Timberwolves tell rookies not to wear child backpacks over hazing concerns

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What has happened in the Miami Dolphin’s locker room with charges of bullying and over-the-line treatment of rookies has other professional sports leagues running a little scared.

We told you the NBA sent out a memo reminding teams to make sure that there is no bullying in their locker rooms, which was to include:

“…engaging in any activity that intimidates or threatens fellow players with ostracism or inflicts extreme mental stress, embarrassment, humiliation or shame.”

Where do you draw that line?

Lakers rookie Ryan Kelly gave a pretty common answer to me Sunday when asked what he had to do: carry bags, pick up towels around the locker room and that sort of thing. Nothing he considered out of line.

Another standard NBA “hazing” tradition is for rookies to have to carry their stuff in a backpack better suited for a preschool girl — a pink Dora the Explorer or princess backpack.

But the Timberwolves have cut that out, rookie Shabazz Muhammad told Eric Pincus of 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.”

I understand the concern of the league and teams here, but honestly the backpack thing doesn’t offend me. A little embarrassing? Sure. But not in an over-the-line way. At least to me.

The dynamic in a smaller NBA locker room is different from the larger NFL teams (plus the culture around the sports are different). I have a feeling in a couple years things like the backpack will be overlooked again and return in the NBA. What teams need to watch for is the far more serious issues that cannot be allowed to even start. The question is where does that line start?