- Adena Andrews, Editor, espnW.com
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TARRYTOWN, N.Y. -- Modeling isn't such a stretch for the NBA's newest rookies, who are blessed with height, great legs and tons of personality. The only thing missing is the actual modeling talent.
Cameras click and flash bulbs pop in the gymnasium as Joakim Noah is leaning with it, rocking with it, snapping his fingers, dusting his shoulders off and doing any other hip-hop bravado move that comes to mind. He is doing everything but following the photographer's directions at the NBA Rookie Photo Shoot.
"Throw your FL's up. Throw your FL's up," Noah says to his Florida crew of Taurean Green, Corey Brewer and Al Horford while contorting his fingers into an F and an L.
Later in the day, Brewer is lying on his side with two basketballs, as if he is poolside in Miami.
"Now just tilt your head back," the photographer says.
Brewer cooperates, letting the light hit his cheekbones ever so slightly.
"What is this guy supposed to be, some sort of swimsuit model?" Nets rookie Sean Williams asks.
It's safe to say that the most impressive draft class in awhile should stick to their day jobs. For most of the 44 rookies present, this is their first photo shoot and the first time they have put on their entire uniform.
"After doing this, my hat goes off to the cast of 'America's Next Top Model,'" says Boston Celtics rookie Gabe Pruitt. "It's hard. I thought it was just taking pictures."
The images taken at the photo shoot, which is held at the Knicks' training facility, are used for everything from NBA promos to bobblehead dolls to basketball cards.
"This is a dream come true," said Kevin Durant, the Sonics' top pick. "I used to collect cards when I was a young boy. To see me on a card is kind of cool."
"I used to save my lunch money and then flip it into cards," Williams added.
Greg Oden, whose card could eventually be pretty valuable, wasn't really impressed with cards as a child.
"I never was that big of a collector and the ones I did have would get jacked up," he said.
In fact, if it were up to Oden, his card would have a different feel to it.
"I would give myself bigger pecs, and of course arms bulging out, and maybe a thong bikini on the beach," Oden said. "It would probably be a good seller."
The day seems like anything but work, as the rookies get a chance to enjoy themselves among the media circus with a DJ Khaled song blasting obnoxiously in the background with lyrics fitting for this season's rookies.
"We taking over. One city at a time."
Then, mix-master Al Horford and DJ Glen Davis get on the ones and twos at the DJ booth and begin to scratch and destroy a Mary J. Blige record.
"That was an exclusive, can't nobody do it better than me," Big Baby gloats.
Their turntable skills are so horrible that they are told by security to cut it out. After that fiasco, the music was lowered for the rest of the day.
In the middle of the gym, Noah isn't thinking about photo shoots. He's getting schooled by a 7-year-old one-third Noah's height, in EA Sports' "NBA Live 08."
"Let's see if you can beat me with my own team," Noah says to the kid, who picks the Bulls while Noah picks the Suns.
A crowd of fans and rookies watch in awe as the kid comes back from a 10-point deficit for the win. All Noah can do is complain about the referees.
"What kind of call was that? That's that ref, that's that ref," Noah says, presumably referring to Tim Donaghy.
At the end of the day, players look completely drained. That is, every player except for the Heat's Daequan Cook, who is still dancing and gyrating around the gym.
But when boxes of basketball cards are distributed to each player, with images of the rookies shot from earlier in the day, the gym then turns into something of a senior yearbook party, with players signing and taking peeks at each other's cards.
"I'm a big Rodney Stuckey, Javaris [Crittenton] and Al Thornton fan," Durant says. "That's whose cards I want."
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