No this isn’t a joke. Some people believe chemistry between teammates can be measured by how often they interact. Actual research was done. Through the first three games of the NBA Finals, The Wall Street Journal logged every on-air time that each team touched each other. It could’ve been a high-five, chest bumps, hugs, anything like that. And through three games, Dallas led overwhelmingly 250-134.
Tyson Chandler is by far the most outlandish with his touchy-feely interactions, averaging 30 “touches” a game. In fact, Chris Bosh leads Miami with 49 of these, but he wouldn’t even make the starting five of Maverick huggers.
A study at the Univ. of California, Berkeley by three guys – Michael W. Kraus, Cassy Huang and Dacher Keltner – started it all.
While there’s no evidence that an NBA team can touch its way to victory, the two touchiest teams in the study, the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers, finished the season with two of the NBA’s top three records.
“I remember when we started doing the coding, we were watching a Golden State Warriors game,” Kraus said. “They were pretty bad that year, and just watching them and their negative body languageâ€”I mean, we weren’t seeing any touching at all even in the first quarter. We immediately thought, ‘This is going to work.'”
No player over the three games collected more high fives than Mavs forward Tyson Chandler (90). He was followed closely by teammates Nowitzki (88), Shawn Marion (69) and Jason Kidd (69). “It’s all about positive reinforcement,” Mavs reserve Brian Cardinal said. “And we’ve got a bunch of guys who really get along.”
James led the Heat with a mere 41 high fives (ed. note: Bosh actually has more). But the touchiest Miami player might be veteran forward Juwan Howard, who averaged 38 high fives per 48 minutes, good for the highest rate on the Heat.
As the series moved on, the Heat became colder to each other. Their “touches” dropped from 58 to 44 and finally to 32 in Game 3. In Game 4, LeBron showed less emotion than a Buckingham Palace guard, so it’s likely the team barely broke 25 intimate moments.
If I’m Dallas in Game 5, I do my best to separate them and conquer. Also, Jim Carrey should have the whole bench lock arms for the entire game rather than just the last 30 seconds like it’s March Madness. That would send their totals through the roof.
Now I don’t have official statistics for this, but here are my top-five touchers in the NBA:
1. Marcus Camby– any time you create a new style of touching – reverse high-fives – you are officially a legend
2. Boris Diaw– he’s from France? and he plays for the gentle Paul Silas? This is a no-brainer
3. Kevin Durant
4. Andrew Bogut – he high-fives so often, he even does it to himself
5. Anyone in the league who doesn’t play in Detroit
If the Heat hug and kiss more in Game 5, will they win?
Follow Sean on Twitter at @SEANesweeney.
Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.
Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.