June 9, 2011

The Mavs are the best in the league at touching

One might say that Lebron's no-show in game 4 or Dirk's performances in the fourth quarter have led Dallas to a 2-2 tie with the superstar-laden Miami Heat. But that might not be the case, high fives could be the Mavs' secret weapon.

The Mavericks, with 250 slaps, hugs, taps or bumps, are almost twice as touchy-feely as the Heat, who had only 134 instances of televised contact. In those three games, the Mavericks were 82% more likely to high five.

The concept of "chemistry" on a sports team has become the stuff of cliché over the years. Nobody seems to have the same definition for what it is, or what produces it. But last fall, three researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, took a serious look at one of the most obvious signs of camaraderie on a team—touching.

The study, which was titled "Tactile Communication, Cooperation and Performance: An Ethological Study of the NBA," was authored by Michael W. Kraus, Cassy Huang and Dacher Keltner. After reviewing broadcasts of games from the 2008-09 season, they concluded that good teams tend to be much more hands-on than bad ones. Teams whose players touched the most often were more cooperative, played better and won more games, they said.

Hear that Lebron!?!?!? Get your high-fives together!

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