We all know that professional sports teams often craft elaborate handshake maneuvers to psych themselves up in pregame intros because they don’t have anything better to do. They are with each other all the time, so to pass the time, they just come up with handshake after handshake after handshake, until every player on the team has their own handshake for every other player on the team. It’s an insane amount of memorization and muscle memory.
And finally, someone has broken down what actually goes down for one of these teams. Royce Young of Daily Thunder took videos of the Thunder going through their intros, then broke down the steps so you can practice this with your friends. It’s incredible.
It goes like this, because the video I put up there really doesn’t capture it all. The starting lineups go through, the Thunder huddle briefly by the bench and then the bench mob seriously forms a line. Cole Aldrich spends his time waiting on his handshakes by jumping into whoever is next to him. (It used to be Ryan Reid — RIP.) James Harden, Eric Maynor and Daequan Cook gather and yell in unison. Russell Westbrook skips through, slaps some chalk on his hands and then does this finger gunz thing at the crowd. And the best part: An usher pops off a some streamers when he does it, which is super cool.
KD follows behind, doing handshakes with the assembly line. He licks his fingers, fistbumps the scorers table as his puts his feet on it to untie and re-tie each shoe. Then he stomps on the sticky pad thing at mid-court while saying a prayer. He crosses himself, points to the sky, taps his chest (which has his grandma and mom’s names tattooed there), taps his back (which has Maryland tattooed there), points to the crowd and then points to the seats where his mom and grandma sit. Then he grabs Serge Ibaka and they say things to each other, which typically consists of Ibaka repeating “Lezzgo, lezzgo, lezzgo.”
Perk goes through the line — jersey always untucked — and gets a hug and does a thing with Royal Ivey. But my favorite thing is that Perk MUST give a fistbump to every Thunder official at the scorekeeper’s table (though I acknowledge he didn’t do it in the second video — I think I missed it). Like I’ve seen him stop and wait for one if they have their head down. He can’t play unless he gets that fistbump.
It’s kind of hard to tell from the video, but those are actually handshake lines from two different nights. They are that identical. The Thunder are that committed to needing these handshakes to be perfect that it’s easy to think you’re watching the same thing twice. That is serious dedication to nailing your handshakes.
The only problem I foresee with such a tight-knit, handshake-perfectionist team is that adding an old-timer like Derek Fisher could really mess up their flow. They better hope you can teach an old Fish new tricks, otherwise he’s going to feel super awkward, milling around with these youngsters like a dad who’s trying to be cool by playing video games with his sons.