An Inside Look At The Rookie Transition Program Reveals A Lot

09.16.14 4 years ago
Jabari Parker

Jabari Parker (Brad Penner, USATODAY)

Last month, we told you about the odd advice that incoming NBA players get at the Rookie Transition Program. Now, we have the full details as to what really happens when the rookies come together to learn a few life lessons from the NBA.

Sarah Lyall of The New York Times had a chance to attend the Rookie Transition Program this year, and shared the very quirky details of what the rookies have to go through.

One of the seminar’s focus is the league’s dress code. A celebrity stylist was brought in to remind players that headphones weren’t allowed outside of locker rooms, planes and buses. Also: no sleeveless shirts or chains.

Chris Copeland of the Indiana Pacers was one of the guest speakers who spoke about being strategic when shopping for clothes so you have attire that works for the league’s business casual code.

The rookies are also trained to handle media questions. In one training session, mock interviews were conducted to show them how to talk about controversial topics such as Donald Sterling:

During media training, the presenter conducted a mock interview with Spencer Dinwiddie of the Detroit Pistons, trying to trip him up with tough questions about, for example, Donald Sterling. How did he do, she asked the crowd. “Every time you tried to throw something negative at him, he turned it around and made it something positive,” the Brooklyn Nets’ Markel Brown said. “I have a concern,” another rookie interjected playfully. “Although he had a good interview, I just couldn’t get over his mustache.”

In another session on decision making, the rookies watched a scene from Woody Allen‘s Blue Jasmine:

After a scene from “Blue Jasmine” in which a character gets into a fight with her boyfriend after she sleeps with another man, the players voted on what they would have done, with options including “hit the girlfriend” and “leave and go get high and drunk.” (No one chose those.) Sixty-two percent of the rookies said they would “call another girl and hang out with her.”

The NBA also made sure to remind the players that if you’re not careful, life can come at you very fast:

To deter the rookies from partaking, there was a slide show juxtaposing photographs of beautiful semi-clad women with photographs of hideously diseased genitalia. There was also a handout listing how much child support the rookies would be required to pay in various states, should they find themselves in sudden possession of a child after a one-night stand. “It was disturbing,” said Tyler Ennis, 20, a freshman star at Syracuse University who was drafted to play for the Phoenix Suns.

All the details of the transition program feel strange and quirky. But in the end, it’s really no different from any other orientation session at a corporate job.

The only difference is that these rookies have very specific examples of players who’ve lost their way because of poor decision making.

Those cautionary tales alone should be enough to help remind the rookies to be careful as they adjust to life in the NBA.

What do you think?

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