National Handshake Day 2018: Best Athlete Handshakes

National Handshake Day occurs on the last Thursday of June every year, falling on June 28th in 2018. Handshakes are an amazing thing, used to show either respect or celebrate with another person. There are many different types of handshakes and no group is better at illustrating the magic of a handshake than athletes. When you take people with shared interests and stick them together for huge amounts of time, during most of which is spent on things like travel, it is not surprising that they can come up with some spectacularly choreographed handshakes. Below is a list of the top 10 athlete handshakes.


LeBron James and JR Smith

This is a perfect example of a celebratory handshake. This occurred moments after LeBron James hit a game-winning shot against the Toronto Raptors in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. We can see that they improvise the lead-up and seamlessly transition into a choreographed shake. The buildup and pure excitement on LeBron’s face make the shake itself even better.


James Harden and Chris Paul

When Chris Paul was traded to the Houston Rockets in the summer of 2017 there were many people who believed there could be chemistry problems between himself and Rockets superstar James Harden. Even if you did not watch a single Houston game all season, this GIF alone is enough to squash that idea. This is teammate chemistry in a nutshell, especially on the half of Paul. As Harden begins pulling Paul in towards him, the facial expression that CP3 makes is a mixture of joy and fear, as if he is a child on a rollercoaster. Teammates certainly do not have to be best friends but being close enough friends to make awesome handshakes helps.


DeSean Jackson and Mike Evans

The Fighter is not only the name of the 2011 Best Picture nominee but also the name of this awesome handshake, at least according to me. This was one of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ best moments of 2017 which is great for D-Jax and Evans but unfortunate for the team as whole as they finished 5-11. Still, the best celebration comes from the team’s best game (their first of that season) and it is better to live in that moment.


Steph Curry and JaVale McGee

Lots going on here. Weird dance moves, pelvic thrusts, patting your own head. This is a choreographed handshake taken to the most elaborate levels. Kevon Looney is so taken aback by the sheer greatness that he is forced to take a step away.


Hunter Pence and Pablo Sandoval

Sometimes a handshake isn’t enough of a celebration. Sometimes you need to cha-cha. I think my favorite part of this is just how unenthusiastic Pablo Sandoval is during the whole thing. I never seen someone so apparently bored by a celebration handshake. It still makes the list, though, for the sheer cuteness of two buddies just needing to dance out a celebration.


Victor Cruz and Odell Beckham Jr.

This handshake rides the line between greatness and lameness. Cruz seemingly goes for a traditional handshakes but opts to only shake the pinky of OBJ rather than his whole hand. There is a rule in handshakes like this; anything that might seem awkward or unorthodox is excused as long as it is done purposefully. Failures in the art of handshaking are failures of coordination. So this might be a weird one but as long as it was purposeful or planned than its all good.


Justin Tucker and Javorius Allen

How often do kickers get to show off their handshaking skills? At least, if any kicker deserves to be on this list it’s Justin Tucker. There seems to be a story of some sort being told through this handshake. Javorius “Buck” Allen sprinkles something into the open hands of Tucker before Tucker throws it up into the air. That could be the end there, but Allen does a dance as he walks away, as if the falling imaginary dust forces him to. Is it magic dancing dust? Perhaps. Is Buck Allen dancing because he was just excited he remembered the moves of the handshake? Probably. Either way, a great end to a fantastic handshake.


Melvin Ingram and Roger Goodell

There is a lot happening in this one and I have a lot of questions.

  1. Did the commissioner of the NFL actually take time to practice this handshake with a rookie?
  2. Could Roger Goodell really be this good at improvising a handshake?
  3. Does that mean Goodell has some semblance of swag?
  4. If this is an option, why doesn’t every rookie do this instead of just a boring business-like shake?

Either way, this is awesome.


Jaren Jackson Jr and Miles Bridges

The most recent addition to this list, this awesome celebratory shake occurred on the June 21st NBA Draft. The handshake occurs between NBA prospects Jaren Jackson Jr and Miles Bridges, who were college teammates at Michigan State. Jackson Jr had just been drafted #4 overall by the Memphis Grizzlies and his teammate (who would go on to be drafted twelfth by the Clippers and simultaneously traded to the Charlotte Hornets) is extactic for him. This is two friends who are realizing their lifelong dreams and a handshake is how they chose to celebrate this moment.


JaVale McGee and Nick Young

This is McGee’s second shake on this list, which is truly an amazing feat. Much like his first shake, there is a lot going on here. Perhaps the best part is Rudy Gobert awkwardly trying to walk around the ritual occurring on the court. In fact, even the other players on the Warriors seem to not know what they should be doing as they stand around trying to avoid eye contact with either of the participants. The dance moves here might seem a little unorthodox. However, if you remember that Nick Young advocated for the legalization of cocaine shortly after winning the NBA Finals, they do make a little more sense.

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