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Shabazz Muhammad carries a new bag thanks to Richie Incognito

November 13, 2013|By Ben Bolch
  • Shabazz Muhammad doesn't have to carry a Jonas Brothers backpack anymore, once part of a rookie hazing ritual.
Shabazz Muhammad doesn't have to carry a Jonas Brothers backpack… (Craig Ruttle / AP )

Shabazz Muhammad departed Los Angeles after games against the Lakers and Clippers with something a little less embarrassing slung over his back.

Instead of a Jonas Brothers backpack, the Minnesota Timberwolves rookie sported a black Gucci bag.

He can thank the NBA as well as Timberwolves team President Chris Wright and General Manager Milt Newton for the upgrade in accessories.

Minnesota banned its players from wearing child-themed backpacks as part of a rookie ritual after the NBA sent out a memo warning teams about bullying and hazing in the wake of the Miami Dolphins scandal involving Richie Incognito.

Muhammad said he understands the league's position and thinks it will result in the end of rookie hazing.

“I mean, I agree with it, but the backpacks were something to welcome us to the team,” Muhammad said, “but it’s all about what the NBA thinks, so we have to go on and respect it.”

Before the ban took effect, Muhammad said he had to wear the Jonas Brothers backpack to airports and games on the road. The reaction was predictable.

“People were always just saying, ‘Aw, that’s a cute backpack,’ ” he said. “It was pretty funny. I got a laugh off of it.”

Rookie hazing typically has been milder in the NBA than in the NFL, where players have been tied to goalposts, forced to pick up the tab for $50,000 dinners and, in an extreme instance involving the New Orleans Saints, run through a hallway with a pillowcase pulled over their heads while veteran teammates punched and kicked them.

“I don’t know why they do it like that in football,” Muhammad said. “It’s cool to do it in the NBA because guys feel welcomed and you can go from there.”

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