The NBA has a new epidemic on its hands.
A star-driven league is bound to feature lots of big-name player movement as new talent takes the court and superstars eyeball super teams. The subsequent drama — your Kyrie Irvings, your Jimmy Butlers — is all part of the fun. But early in the 2018-19 season, notable names finding new homes and leaving old ones have ravaged a very touching thing: Pregame handshakes.
The Toronto Raptors’ Kyle Lowry gave us our first taste of warm-up heartbreak on his team’s opening night. The 32-year-old point guard spent more than half a decade playing alongside four-time All-Star DeMar DeRozan, and those playing days included a shake-and-jog routine with DeRozan coming out of the locker room before each game. So with DeRozan, his good friend, shipped to San Antonio this summer as part of the Kawhi Leonard deal, Lowry was left to carry out the handshake by himself.
It was both an adorable and tragic scene, but it was also only the beginning.
As NBA TV captured this week, the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Steven Adams pulled a Lowry himself. The bearded big man was known to execute a firm handshake and stare with former teammate Nick Collison before games, but with Collison announcing his retirement in March, Adams became the latest to hop on the solo shake train. With a blank expression and that same firm shake, Adams found a nice patch of thin air before a game this week and did the routine by his lonesome — yet another cold, hardwood reminder of handshakes lost.
The only question now is whether players will flip this thing on its head and just start doing solo shakes for the fun of it. Better yet: Maybe we’ll get some kind of telekinetic-style shake, where guys like Lowry and DeRozan do their handshakes by themselves, except at the exact same time, in different states, before different games?
In any event, the “ghostshake,” as Yahoo! calls it, appears to be here to stay.
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