Training camp is as much about building relationships and camaraderie as it is about hard work, fundamentals and conditioning. That’s why it was about as shocking as someone having a drink on Mad Men– not at all — that after Tuesday evening’s practice the veterans decided to have a little fun.
Under the direction of the elder statesman Jermaine O’Neal, center Marcin Gortat surprised rookie Kendall Marshall with a little something he can wear around the rest of the week.
“They told me after the first practice that they had a surprise for me,” Marshall explained. “My response was ‘good or bad?’ They wouldn’t tell me. They said ‘we have a gift for you.’ They pulled it out and it’s a Justin Bieber bookbag. I feel like I can pull off the J-Biebs.”
Compared to his experience in Orlando, Gortat feels the Suns rook is getting off easy.
“I did different things when I was a rookie in Orlando,” the big man reminisced. “I had to do worse. Much worse. I had to carry a Playstation for 82 games. I had to bring Krispy Kreme every morning with receipt to prove that I bought it that day. I had to get drinks at the gas station at 3 a.m. in the morning. The best one I had to do was make sure the sports section was flipped up front when one of our veterans opened the door.”
While it sounds like the Polish Machine still (jokingly) harbors some resentment towards his former teammates and their version of rookie initiation, Marshall is embracing his introduction to the hijinx of the NBA the way the Academy is embracing Seth Macfarlane.
“I’m going to make it a fashion statement,” the North Carolina product joked. “I’m going to wear it all the time to the point that they’re going to be mad.”
Just don’t let Gortat know, he’s already looking forward to being the most tenured in the locker room and issuing his own kind of rookie justice.
“Just wait till I get older,” he said with a laugh. “Hopefully I’ll have double-digit years in the league. Oh boy, oh lord.”
Yep, Bieber backpacks, wind sprints, reminiscing about the past, learning new plays, working out and plotting for the future. It’s all in a days work at training camp in the NBA.