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News » Hugs now a pregame ritual

Hugs now a pregame ritual

Hugs now a pregame ritual
The Thunder's pregame routine could initially catch you off guard, leading inquiring minds to a double take or a, 'Did they just...?"

They did.

In this most desperate time - a 2-20 record and current four-game losing streak entering tonight's game against Memphis - Thunder players have turned to the most desperate of measures.


And not that 'man hug' business, where two men embrace with one arm while shaking hands below. Thunder players are sharing what many men reserve only for births and funerals, weddings and graduations - a big ol' two-armed embrace before nightly crowds of 17,000-plus, seconds before the jump ball.

Apparently, times like these try men's souls and their egos. The Thunder is hoping the rarely seen show of affection serves as a means to help the team stick together through what's close to becoming a record-setting start to a season.

"I just think by us addressing everybody it kind of pulls us together a little tighter," said Chris Wilcox. "Something's got to work."

But hugs?

"I guess that's like showing love," Wilcox said. "It's just like dap (five). You see somebody and that's what you do. That's just how everybody's doing it now."

The Thunder isn't the only team to partake in the pregame embrace. The Houston Rockets, New Orleans Hornets and defending champion Boston Celtics are some of the many teams around the league that have adopted the cuddly custom.

But the routine takes on a different meaning for the Thunder.

"It helps you just to know that no matter how bad this losing streak is or how many losses we have, guys are always still encouraging us and greeting us before we take the court," said Kevin Durant. "Even though it's something small, that helps."

The origins of the hug, Durant said, date back to when Desmond Mason delivered a heartfelt speech during a players-only meeting immediately following the team's 25-point road loss to Philadelphia. Mason scolded his younger teammates for sitting quietly on the bench after good plays.

The bench soon became more animated during runs, and over time the Thunder began expressing the enthusiasm before tip-off.

It started with players giving each other five just prior to the game. Some players added new wrinkles to form a more complex handshake. Then came the hug.

"It's almost like baseball," said veteran Joe Smith, who is credited for starting the many oddities and who the starters are last to hug before the game. "You see in baseball dugouts they've got all those fives and things like that. It's almost like that, just something that everybody's used to doing with each other."

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: December 12, 2008


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