Information on the Informant: The informant for this particular piece of folklore is a 20 year old friend of mine who attends usc names Brian Finley. Brian is from San Diego, California and has played basketball his whole life. He recently transferred to USC this past year (2015) after spending his first year of college at Chapman University playing basketball. He is a tall and very skilled player who has traveled all around the country throughout his life playing in various tournaments. He has seen teams from many different geographical areas and how their traditions vary based on team.
From the informant:
“So essentially what happens prior to the game starting is that each team does its’ warm ups for a while and then we all sit on the bench and wait for the starting 5 players from each team to be introduced. The announcer typically says the player’s name, his position, and how tall he is. Traditionally, the starting five are sitting on the bench before they are called and the rest of the team is standing up kind of making a little pathway for the player to go through when he is announced. The player gets announced and then has to go shake hands with the opposing coach and referees. However, sometimes there is a player who stands at the end of the pathway and does a custom handshake with each starter of the team. If the players really care about the hand shake, they will practice before and each starter will have his own custom handshake that the non-starter does with him. Lots of high school, college, and professional players do it. Recently it’s become a lot more popular because a lot of pro players are making really weird handshakes that get filmed and then go viral on youtube or something.”
Analysis: Attached below I put a link of a player in the NBA, Cameron Payne, who has become popular this year because of his unorthodox handshakes before the game. Payne is a great example of a guy who has popularized this pre-game ritual and made it a more universal basketball tradition.