The Knicks entered the season with an average age of 31.2 -- the oldest in NBA history. Even their youngest rookie, Chris Copeland, is 28 years old.
But in Marcus Camby's eyes, Copeland is still a rookie.
This season, the backup center has been in charge of Copeland's rookie hazing. If you catch the young fella in the locker room before games, where he usually is watching film of the opponent, you'll see Camby's biggest influence.
Copeland has to bring a Disney Princess bright-pink backpack to every game. Camby said one of his daughters -- he has two, Maya and Milan -- actually thought it was for her when he bought it.
"She's like, 'Oh daddy, you bought me a new bookbag!'" said Camby, who did the same thing to Blake Griffin when he was a rookie in 2008 with the Clippers. "And I was like, 'Nah, that's for a guy on our team.' And she was like, 'But he's a boy.' And I was like, 'I know. He has to wear this bookbag.'"
At first, Copeland was embarrassed carrying the accessory, but he's now comfortable with it -- well, at least for the time being.
"I have a good time with it, honestly," he said. "It took me so long to get here (to the NBA). I'm having fun with the whole process, even if it's at my expense. Everybody has a good time with it, but I can't wait to get rid of it."
Copeland said he had never been hazed in his previous five years playing in the D-League, Belgium, Germany, Holland and Spain. He said it's more of an American tradition, which is why the team hasn't hazed rookie point guard Pablo Prigioni, a 35-year-old from Argentina.
"It's a different culture," Copeland said. "I've taken part in some hazing, but I never got hazed. ... In the D-League [in 2006-07], I was a rookie, and they had me get some towels or something a couple times."
Fortunately for Copeland, Camby has gone light on the small forward, like also having him wear a tuxedo once to a home game with sneakers.
"I've heard a lot of stories," Copeland said. "I won't say names, but they tell me stories of some of the stuff they had to go through. Like one guy had to wake up at six in the morning and go find like some Turkish coffee, for example."
However, Copeland knows it's a long season.
"I'm sure there's a lot more things to come," he said, laughing.
You better believe it. Hear it from Camby first.
"I'm looking into this costume he has to wear on that flight from New York to L.A. for Christmas," he said, speaking softly in the locker room before the Nets game on Tuesday, so Copeland couldn't hear about five seats away. "I'll take pictures and tweet it out. I gave him an option. I said, 'Do you want to be a bumblebee or a lady bug?' He chose bumblebee, so I'm going with the lady bug (laughs)."
Camby was never hazed because he was on the expansion Raptors team in 1996, but he's sure having fun with the process now as a veteran.
"Everybody was new in Toronto, so I lucked out," he said, laughing.
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