Updated 05:59 AM EST, Sun, Dec 05, 2021

NBA Memo Reminds Team Bullying Will Not Be Tolerated Post-NFL Hazing Case

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In light of the Miami Dolphins Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin hazing case, ESPN is reporting that the National Basketball Association (NBA) has sent a memo to all 30 teams that bullying and hazing will not be tolerated by the league office.

Incognito, a starting offensive lineman for the Dolphins, was suspended last Sunday for conduct detrimental to the team after Martin revealed evidence - including threatening texts and voice mails - to the team, the NFL, and the NFL Players Association of constant bullying and harassment against him in the locker room by Incognito.

Since the Dolphin's case has gone public, the NBA reiterated to teams that a number of behaviors that will not be tolerated by the league office, including any physical abuse or threats of violence; verbal abuse focused on an individual's race, nationality, color, gender, age, religion, sexuality, etc.; destruction, defacement or theft of a fellow player's personal property; engaging in any activity that intimidates or threatens fellow players with ostracism or inflicts extreme mental stress, embarrassment, humiliation or shame; and forcing an individual to engage in any activity or perform any task that violates federal, state or local law or NBA rules and regulations.

Multiple sources confirmed to ESPN on Monday that Incognito used racial epithets and profane language against Martin, including leaving a message on his phone as late as April calling Martin a "half n----- piece of s---" and "F--- you, you're still a rookie. I'll kill you."

Martin was also forced to pay $15,000 to contribute for Incognito's vacation to Las Vegas. The NBA reminded teams that the league prohibits any individual from unreasonably paying for meals, travel, entertainment, expenses, goods or services that are being enjoyed solely by others.

While "hazing" - the practice of imposing strenuous and humiliating tasks as part of a teams initiation - is common practice in sports locker rooms, such as carrying bags or bringing food in on practice for veteran player, the incidents alleged against Incognito surpass what is considered acceptable behavior.

"I've been around for a while and I've never really heard any crazy stories," said a Western Conference team executive to ESPN.

In the NBA, veterans often force rookies to wear kindergarten-style backpacks to games and practices, but that is widely seen as a standard rite of passage.

"It has really lightened up in recent years," said another Western Conference team executive to ESPN.

Martin, who has left the team and has not returned since making the harassment and misconduct accusation, has hired attorney David Cornwell--who has represented Major League Baseball players Ryan Bruan, after he failed a league drug test for performance enhancing drugs and accused the league of tampering, and Alex Rodriguez in the Biogenesis investigation fallout.

"For the entire season-and-a-half that he was with the Dolphins, he attempted to befriend the same teammates who subjected him to the abuse with the hope that doing so would end the harassment," said Cornwell, in a statement, on Thursday. "This is a textbook reaction of victims of bullying. Despite these efforts, the taunting continued."

 

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