After a slow start to the season that included a 1-7 record and a team meeting that involved players, coaches and the front office, the Sacramento Kings find themselves the winners of four games in a row and in the 8th spot in the Western Conference. Since the new year began, the team is 7-3 and a newfound chemistry seems to have budded. But there is still one thing that could take that chemistry to the next level - connecting on high fives.
"We miss them all the time this year," Darren Collison said. "Whenever you have new players, it seems to be they're the ones that always do that."
There could be something to that. The first time a lack of timing on the high five was noticed this season came in November between new Kings big man Kosta Koufos and DeMarcus Cousins. The miss resulted in a memorable flex and a self high five with a finger gun.
"That was a mistake," Cousins said.
Cousins was recently on the Jalen and Jacoby podcast and said jokingly, "For some reason, my team this year, we're just having problems giving each other high fives ... I think we need to spend a couple of minutes after practice working on that, we've been struggling with that area this season."
To compound the situation even more, Rajon Rondo doesn't even perform the traditional high five these days. This season, he has decided to become more of a formal handshake kind of guy. Formal handshakes are commonplace in the business world, but in sports it isn't something you see a lot of. The formal congratulations began between him and Ben McLemore.
Rondo prefers it because he considers his hands to be "fragile."
"I've got to save them for necessary needs on the court," he said.
Omri Casspi, who has received his fair share of these all-business handshakes, believes it is an extension of Rondo's personality.
"Rondo kind of likes to be chill; Rondo's never been a guy that screams ... I like it, I like, "Let's go!" and get the energy going but Rondo is the type of guy that he likes his mental thing where he likes to stay even keel, so whatever is comfortable to him is comfortable to me," Casspi said.
If you haven't picked up on it yet, the handshake has become a subtle running joke for the Kings this season. Cousins admitted, in fact, that the team is now intentionally missing high fives. Take this instance between Boogie and Rondo.
"Rondo purposely did that," said Cousins, who admitted to having to give himself a high five on more than one occasion this season. "It's actually been done quite a lot this season, it just hasn't been caught on camera."
For a team labeled as the "Suicide Squad" before the season even began, small acts of humor like this and the positive momentum the team has been building recently point to a squad that is gelling and having fun doing so.
"We joke around a lot. Sometimes at the wrong time [laughs], but we joke around a lot," Cousins said.
Despite the humor, Rondo believes the high five in sports important.
"I just think touch is key ... It's just a sign of chemistry, sign of comradery and I think it's undervalued ... Look them [teammates] in the eye and let them know we're all on the same page and maybe they need a little bit of encouragement," Rondo said.
Even so, I asked Boogie what step 1 to solving this dilemma of the missed high five would be.
"I think we need to work on our communication," he said with a smile.