Saturday, February 13, 2016

The Art Of Giving Dap by NBA Commissioner — Adam Silver

Adam Silver, the N.B.A. commissioner, greeted, from left, Andre Iguodala, Andrew Bogut and Draymond Green at the Warriors’ ring ceremony last year. Silver is known for giving dap, an intricate, intimate handshake, to players. Credit Photographs by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE, via Getty Images

So some Golden State Warriors players were surprised to see how N.B.A. Commissioner Adam Silver greeted them at their championship ring ceremony a few months ago.
Rather than extending a firm handshake and a cordial word or two while passing out the rings, Silver stood there and gave dap — that is, a more intricate, intimate handshake — to pretty much every player.
“Usually, you don’t see that,” said Shaun Livingston, a veteran guard for the Warriors. “You expect a more corporate-type handshake. I guess he felt comfortable enough.”
That night, Livingston and his teammates experienced what many other players and observant fans have noticed: Silver, who took over as commissioner two years ago, gives dap with great enthusiasm.
He gives dap when greeting players on stage at the June draft. He gives dap to players on the court before games. Theoretically, he could give dap several hundred times at next month’s All-Star Game weekend.

Silver dapped with Rondae Hollis-Jefferson after he was drafted by the Trail Blazers. Experts say his style of handshake may be an effort to project a sense of partnership. Credit Kathy Willens/Associated Press


“I tend to be a pretty physical person,” said Silver, who, when dapping, appears to favor the common three-step handshake plus half-hug combination.
Silver’s multistage clasps have inspired double takes from players and gleeful Twitter posts from amused spectators.
People seem to notice Silver’s handshake style because — as a 53-year-old white lawyer from Rye, N.Y. — he does not really look like a person who would shake hands that way. He laughed and acknowledged that colleagues were not greeting one another other like this when he was a litigation associate at the white-shoe law firm of Cravath, Swaine & Moore many years ago.
“You see him on TV and stuff, and he doesn’t seem like that type of guy,” said Kevon Looney, who was the 30th selection at the draft last year. “I just put my hand out there, followed his lead, and we dapped.”

Michael Jordan & Jay-Z givin' dap!
Back in 2014, when the public was still just getting to know Silver, “Saturday Night Live” anticipated the humor of this visual disconnect. It parodied Silver’s bookish mien in the wake of his decision to oust Donald Sterling as owner of the Los Angeles Clippers. Sterling had been recorded making racist remarks about black people, and Silver was quick to act.
“I’ve gotten more high-fives from random black people this week than any week in my life,” the cast member Taran Killam said as he impersonated Silver in the sketch. “And I’ve learned many wonderful new handshakes.”
In the grand scheme of things, of course, the stakes surrounding handshakes may be pretty low. And yet those moments can present a clumsy terrain for the participants, with age, status and race among the potential distractions.

Jay-Z & Nas providing dap!
Silver is aware of all this, and he acknowledged that the handshake greetings he now engages in sometimes presented potential trip wires. He compared it to his experiences going to Europe for games and being unsure how many kisses on the cheek were acceptable.

At the Warriors’ ring ceremony last October, Silver gave dap to 11 players and gave a more traditional handshake to just one: Andrew Bogut, a 31-year-old center from Australia who happens to be the team’s lone white player.
That moment actually mimicked a sketch from a different comedy show, Comedy Central’s “Key & Peele,” in which President Obama is depicted greeting a line of supporters, giving plain handshakes to white people and increasingly cozy greetings to blacks.
For that matter, Obama, in real life, gave rise to a popular basketball-related clip four years ago when he entered the United States national men’s basketball team’s locker room, shook hands with a white team staff member and then immediately thereafter gave dap to Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant.

Adam Silver & Nik Stauskas — Dappin' season is in session!
In the case of Silver and Bogut, there could have been other reasons for the plainness of their handshake, including the fact that Silver, as commissioner, represents the owners during collective bargaining. Last summer, after seeing that Silver had told reporters that “a significant number of teams are continuing to lose money,” Bogut posted a Twitter message ridiculing that notion and another one making fun of Silver’s appearance, comparing him to the singer Sinead O’Connor.
“I recognize they may be conflicted in terms of a relationship with me,” Silver said when asked why he had not dapped Bogut. “There may be something they’re upset about. I’m genuinely trying to read them. My recollection with Andrew was that, my sense was, he seemed more businesslike in his approach to it, and that’s fine with me.”
Adam Galinsky, a professor at Columbia Business School who has written extensively about management behavior, as well as the N.B.A., said it seemed as if Silver was trying to highlight the ways he differs from his predecessor, David Stern, who was seen to be more authoritarian when it came to interacting with the players.
Stern instituted a dress code for the league, and he helped the owners win big concessions from the players during the last round of collective bargaining, in 2011.
Galinsky said Silver’s colloquial handshakes, in contrast, seemed like an effort to project a sense of partnership, which may be needed with negotiations already underway on a new N.B.A. labor deal to take effect after the 2016-17 season.
“It’s a symbol of, ‘We’re coming from the same place, rather than different places; we’re on the same side, not different sides,’ ” Galinsky said.
The handshakes may also symbolize the ways Silver has tried to navigate a league in which three-quarters of the players are black — and a large majority of team owners are white — and where black culture to an extent serves as a lingua franca within locker rooms.
LaMont Hamilton, an interdisciplinary artist who has conducted extensive research on African-American gestural language for a project on the dap, said the handshake originated from black soldiers serving in the Vietnam War and grew to prominence in conjunction with the Black Power movement.

“This is a secret handshake that’s done publicly,” Hamilton said. “It’s meant to be visible, but only people who understand its significance are initiated.”

Daps, which come in various forms, are now performed by people of all races and ages. The process of becoming mainstream has stripped the gesture in many contexts of much of its original meaning. But in the opinion of Hamilton, it remains an evocative act.
“I hate to put it in monolithic terms, but it’s a way of connecting blackness,” Hamilton said.
As for Silver, he said he was conscious of fostering a sense of partnership with the players, and he refers often to his feeling that the N.B.A. and its various subgroups constitute a family.
“The players recognize that often, I’m in an adversarial position from them, just by virtue of my job,” Silver said. “My sense is they’re sophisticated enough to see and understand that we’re all playing roles. I’m doing a job. They’re doing their jobs. But we’re in the N.B.A., and there is a sense that this is a family and that, at a personal level, we can count on each other.”
Justise Winslow, whom the Miami Heat selected with the 10th pick in last June’s draft, wondered at first whether he and the commissioner were forming a special bond when they greeted each another that night.
Then he realized Silver was offering the same handshake to almost everyone else.
“I thought he just did that with other Dukies,” Winslow said, smiling, in reference to Duke, their shared alma mater. “It’s cool. We were at the luncheon before the draft, and we dapped up then, too.”

Adam Silver welcomes Kristaps Prozingis to the NBA w/ an Epic Dap for the Ages!
Kristaps Porzingis, the Knicks’ standout rookie, recalled his own anxiety at that draft. The team’s fans were jeering him as he traversed the Barclays Center stage as the No. 4 pick, but his mind was on something else entirely: Silver’s right arm.
“I was just focused on trying to read him, how he was going to give me his hand, so that it was not an awkward shake,” Porzingis said.
Porzingis watched Silver angle his fingers upward and out, so he followed his lead. They clasped thumbs and palmed each other’s shoulders. It was a smooth interaction that left Porzingis at once relieved and impressed.
“He doesn’t go for the regular shake,” Porzingis said. “That’s kind of cool. That’s the swag we have in the N.B.A.”
It was the exact congenial vibe Silver said he hoped to foster. He hesitated a moment, though, when told that Porzingis noted he had displayed “swag.”
“I’m not going to agree with that,” Silver said, finally. “But I appreciate the compliment from Kristaps.” — Andrew Keh | The New York Times

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