- Nick Friedell, ESPN Staff Writer
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CLEVELAND -- Byron Scott has put a new spin on rookie hazing.
The Cleveland Cavaliers' coach presented each one of his rookies -- Dion Waiters, Tyler Zeller and Kevin Jones -- with baby dolls and pink strollers before Wednesday night's 95-85 loss to the Chicago Bulls.
Waiters and Zeller received their baby dolls at shootaround while Jones had a baby doll and a stroller waiting for him a couple hours before the game. The players are trying to take the baby dolls, and the jokes that come with them, in stride.
"Just rookie initiation, I guess," Jones said with a laugh. "Just trying to have fun with it. You're only a rookie once, so you just got to have fun with it."
Scott didn't offer an explanation regarding the baby dolls before the game, but each player realizes the hazing is just part of the game. Waiters' baby doll, Mary, and Zeller's baby doll, LaQuesha, sat quietly on the side of the Cavs' locker room while Jones' baby doll, Connie, sat in front of his locker.
"(Scott) didn't tell us (why)," Zeller said. "He just had them out there for us. It's just something you've got to do as a rookie. It's a rite of passage."
Jones, who was called up from the Cavs' D-League affiliate on Tuesday, isn't sure if the baby dolls will be around all season or will travel with the Cavs. He does know the rookies will have to carry the baby dolls' diaper bags on the road with them.
"Apparently you've got to carry milk and Pampers in this little pink bag," Jones said. "You've got to make sure it's always full with that (stuff) and bring it in and out of the arena with you, and you get in trouble if you don't have it with you."
What will happen if they don't have the bag with them?
"I don't know," Jones said. "I don't want to find out."
This isn't the first time this season the Cavaliers' rookies have been hazed. They had to carry pink backpacks with them earlier in the year. While hazing might be common around the league, the babies have taken things to a new level.
"I didn't have to do the baby stuff, but we make our rookies do stuff like bring soap and make sure that guys have deodorant," Bulls guard Nate Robinson said. "He don't got to wear no pink backpack because at the end of the day he's a grown man like everybody else. It's just some things that rookies got to do that they got to (pay) homage, not just us but all the players that played in the league before us."
3dEthan Sherwood Strauss
4dMatt Walks, ESPN.com