Warriors rookies get ‘Hello Kitty’ treatment

OAKLAND — Hello Kitty and One Direction backpacks, Furby and leopard-print beanies, and bad singing.

Middle school slumber party? No, it’s a Warriors open practice.

The open practice event held Saturday at Warriors headquarters in downtown Oakland culminated with a rookie initiation.

Andrew Bogut and Draymond Green presented rookies Nemanja Nedovic and Ognjen Kuzmic with One Direction Hello Kitty backpacks the newbies are required to wear to all home and road games.

Bogut — who on Friday inked a three-year, $36 million contract extension — was serious about the consequences should the rookies forget to wear their garb:

“If you forget to wear them, there is a fine system in place.”

After receiving their rookie gifts, the two sang for the crowd of sponsors, special guests, and fans at home streaming the practice through a Google hangout session.

Nedovic went full throttle all day, including his singing session. After he was done knocking down threes, he assured the crowd that even if they didn’t understand his singing, the people back home in Serbia would appreciate it:

“You won’t understand me, but I guarantee I’ll be a YouTube sensation in Serbia.”

Coach Mark Jackson played along afterwards, saying that while Nedovic shined in his performance, Kuzmic was a disappointment:

“Nedo did a great job of actually embracing his song. It was inspiring. I thought Nedo was very good. I thought Kuz, well he’s got some work to do.  He’s the guy in a choir you just punch in for one line then get him out of there.”

As for Nedovic, he said he’s not shy, and looked like he enjoyed the antics. He laughed when he told SFBay he loved his new gifts and might check out One Direction and even wear his backpack after his rookie season:

“I want to thank my veterans, they prepared us for two weeks, so I had time to prepare myself for the song. I have to wear the backpack. I don’t want to be in Kent’s position so it’s fine.”

The entire practice — along with a behind the scenes tour of the Warriors headquarters — was streamed live on the team website and through Google+. As many as 5,000 people watched the online stream.

The event also included a three-point contest.  The final battle came down to Stephen Curry and Nedovic on one team, with Toney Douglas, Kent Bazemore, and Bogut on the other team.

Bogut ended up hitting the winning shot to beat Curry and Nedovic by one point.

The day was light-hearted and not as strenuous as normal practices, but Jackson made assurances the team is ready for Wednesday’s season opener against the Lakers:

“We’re in regular season mode now. We will get enough work in and be prepared for Wednesday.”


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