A recent study of the NBA outlined in the New York Times this morning states that there is a high correlation between the frequency of touching between teammates on the floor and their performance. From the NYTimes:
In a paper due out this year in the journal Emotion, Mr. Kraus and his co-authors, Cassy Huang and Dr. Keltner, report that with a few exceptions, good teams tended to be touchier than bad ones. The most touch-bonded teams were the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers, currently two of the league’s top teams; at the bottom were the mediocre Sacramento Kings and Charlotte Bobcats.
The same was true, more or less, for players. The touchiest player was Kevin Garnett, the Celtics’ star big man, followed by star forwards Chris Bosh of the Toronto Raptors and Carlos Boozer of the Utah Jazz. “Within 600 milliseconds of shooting a free throw, Garnett has reached out and touched four guys,” Dr. Keltner said.
It’s important to note that this is a correlation, not a causation study, as the principal investigator goes on to say, but they do hope to test for causation in the future in a controlled environment to see if hugs and high-fives actually impact performance.
The study also factored in for better teams being more successful and therefore touching more, to control for that variable, and the result was the same. There are some interesting questions once you get past the initial components. Does a hip-bump count? How about a butt slap? Are there players who are negatively impacted by touching?
I think we can say for certain that Andrew Bogut subscribes to this theory.