October 3, 2012: Suns rookies receive surprise after practice
LA JOLLA, Calif. -- The first day of two-a-days had just ended.
But before anyone was allowed to leave, Marcin Gortat made like Santa Claus and handed out backpacks---kids' backpacks, to rookies Kendall Marshall, Luke Zeller and Markieff Morris.
Wait, Markieff Morris? He isn't a rookie.
"You're still a rookie until the first regular season game," Gortat explained. "That's how it is around the league. That's just how it is."
Okay, makes sense.
So Morris, Marshall and Zeller each received either a Hello Kitty or Justin Bieber backpack.
"I think it's great," Marshall said as he sported the Bieber model. "I'm going to make it a fashion statement. I'm going to wear it all the time to the point where they're going to be mad, like, 'This doesn't faze him.' That's where I'm going with it."
Gortat said he was only "executing" an idea drummed up by 16-year veteran Jermaine O'Neal.
"It's pretty cool," Gortat said.
A season ago, according to Gortat, the rookies got off easy. "Last year we had veterans like Steve (Nash) and Grant (Hill). They were just too cool. They were just too nice."
During his own rookie season with the Orlando Magic, Gortat said he made sure to have a PlayStation and Krispy Kreme available before every game. "I needed to have the receipt that I bought (the donuts) that day."
There was more.
The best he said was when the team went on the road. "I had to go flip the newpaper (to) the sports side at 6 o'clock in the morning (so) when one of our veterans opened up (their hotel) door, the sports side got to be flipped up front."
Now entering his sixth NBA season, Gortat is anxious for the day when he'll be able to order the rookies around.
"Just wait until I get older," he said. "Hopefully one day I'm going to have double digit years in the league. Oh boy, oh lord, oh lord."