Lakers' rookie hazing gets a late start

Rookies Jordan Clarkson, Tarik Black had better get used to baby carriages and wearing pink

The rookie hazing started a lot later than usual, but its intensity increased Sunday.

Jordan Clarkson and Tarik Black will be pushing toy babies around in small strollers the rest of the season, as per Lakers Coach Byron Scott's insistence.

"Absolutely," Scott said Sunday. "They're in charge of bringing them to every home game, making sure they're right by their locker and that the baby's not crying or anything like that. They've got to watch their baby, can't lose the baby, and then on game days on the road, they have to wear their pink backpacks."

Scott said he made rookies do the same thing while coaching in Cleveland.

He was lucky, he said, to pretty much be left alone by veteran players when he was a Lakers rookie in 1983-84.

"I just had to carry a few bottles now and then," he said. "But this is something that really was supposed to be done at the beginning of the season. It was supposed to be an all-year thing. I just kind of forgot about it."

Rookie Julius Randle would inherit a toy baby next season, Scott said.

Randle sustained a season-ending broken leg on opening night.

Clarkson was the target of some minor hazing last month after Kobe Bryant passed Michael Jordan for third place on the NBA's career scoring list. He had to sing "Congratulations, Kobe Bryant" to the tune of "Happy Birthday" over the sound system of the team's charter flight from Minnesota to Indiana.

Clarkson planned to call his toy baby "Rhi Rhi" (Rihanna's nickname) and said he would bring it to Staples Center the rest of the season because "we get a fine if we forget it."

Sorry, Kobe

Houston Rockets Coach Kevin McHale walks with a noticeable limp, the endgame of a 13-year NBA career with season after season of toiling in the paint.

He was a natural to ask about Bryant's continuing issues with injuries.

"Eventually, this catches up to you, man," McHale said Sunday before the Rockets beat the Lakers, 99-87. "Kobe's a great player, but I've seen other great players — when your time's up, your time's up, man. It's too bad, but it happens to everybody.

"I wish him all the best. I've always admired him. I think he's a hell of a competitor, but everything comes to an end. In my case, my body just said, 'You weren't playing anymore,' and I said, 'OK.'"

Bryant, 36, will decide as early as Monday whether to undergo season-ending surgery for a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder. Surgery would make it three consecutive times he couldn't finish a season. He was sidelined by a torn Achilles' tendon in April 2013 and a broken bone in his knee last season.

mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

Twitter: @Mike_Bresnahan

Times correspondent Eric Pincus contributed to this report.

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