The Thunder’s pregame routine could initially catch you off guard, leading inquiring minds to a double take or a, ‘Did they just...?”
They did. In this most desperate time — a 2-20 record and current four-game losing streak entering tonight’s game against Memphis — Thunder players have turned to the most desperate of measures. Hugging. And not that ‘man hug’ business, where two men embrace with one arm while shaking hands below. Thunder players are sharing what many men reserve only for births and funerals, weddings and graduations — a big ol’ two-armed embrace before nightly crowds of 17,000-plus, seconds before the jump ball. Apparently, times like these try men’s souls and their egos. The Thunder is hoping the rarely seen show of affection serves as a means to help the team stick together through what’s close to becoming a record-setting start to a season. "I just think by us addressing everybody it kind of pulls us together a little tighter,” said Chris Wilcox. "Something’s got to work.” But hugs? "I guess that’s like showing love,” Wilcox said. "It’s just like dap (five). You see somebody and that’s what you do. That’s just how everybody’s doing it now.” The Thunder isn’t the only team to partake in the pregame embrace. The Houston Rockets, New Orleans Hornets and defending champion Boston Celtics are some of the many teams around the league that have adopted the cuddly custom. But the routine takes on a different meaning for the Thunder. "It helps you just to know that no matter how bad this losing streak is or how many losses we have, guys are always still encouraging us and greeting us before we take the court,” said Kevin Durant.