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Not so beautiful. Johnson nearly broke Cooper's wrist. "Magic didn't hit my hand," says Cooper. "He didn't get the meat of it. But the intensity was there. Not like the traditional shake. That went out with American-made cars."
Johnson uses the high five even in moments of anger. One night in Atlanta, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar drew what he thought was an undeserved foul and began steaming around in a fury. Immediately Johnson high-fived him. Pffft went Kareem's anger. "The high five can do a lot of things for you," says Magic. Last year the rookie also was credited with inventing the behind-the-back hug after Jamaal Wilkes converted an impossible layup in a game against Phoenix. "There's a lot of ways to high-five without high-fiving," Johnson says.
The Dodgers' theory is that Baker and Burke unveiled the high five at Dodger Stadium on Oct. 5, 1977 (what other day of the month could it have been?) in the second game of the National League playoffs after Baker ripped a grand-slam home run off Philadelphia's Jim Lonborg.
As Baker approached the dugout. Burke roared out and wound up his arm in a motion spontaneously matched by Baker as the two met in an explosion of joy. "That's right, man," Baker says. "That was it. The first high five. But I didn't originate it. It's just like a rumor. You'll never find the originator of the high five, just as you'll never find out who started the shing-a-ling. But Glenn gets the credit for that one. He was from the Bay Area, and everything starts there before it gets to the rest of the world. It was a moment of jubilation. If he had slapped me across the head, I would have done the same. In those moments you don't think about what's kosher."
The Dodgers' Rick Monday says Baker is the "supreme" high-five stylist. "He's easily excitable," says Monday. "Reggie Smith is a brute-force high five. Then you have Burt Hooton. His idea of a high five is standing up and nodding. You give Tom Lasorda a high five and you get back a low elbow. He needs 30 seconds notice to go get a pogo stick. How long will the high five last? Until everybody gets bursitis."
The high five has existed a long time in women's volleyball, at least since 1970. "It was always there," says Andy Banachowski, the UCLA women's coach. "Almost like a personal thing. Each team did it a little bit differently. In volleyball you are so reliant on one another, dependent on communication. After a spike or block it was, like, a high 10. This season our girls are trying something different yet. While one hand gives the slap coming down, the other accepts a slap coming up. Then they reverse in a mirror image. It's something."
Kathy Gregory, the women's coach at the University of California at Santa Barbara, who played college and pro volleyball in the late '60s and early '70s. remembers the high 10 being most prevalent after errors.
"It was a conciliatory gesture back then." Gregory says. "If a girl hit a ball out or made some other mistake, we just went up and high-slapped her. You know, women give so much more support to each other than men do. We get more excited. We play on a higher emotional level. Our philosophy is never to get down on a teammate. I think the young teams from Hawaii first generated this spirit, the clapping of hands. Nick's Fish-market had a team that came over to play in the USVBA tournaments in the early '70s. They were just high school girls and they high-slapped all over the place. Then we all started doing it after spikes or side outs. The men? For every one high five they did, we must have high-fived a million times. No contest."
Gene Banks and Kenny Dennard, the one an inner city black from Philadelphia, the other a white farm boy from North Carolina, are playing basketball together for the fourth season at Duke University. At present they are an undergraduate comedy team specializing in ribald humor and self-deprecating one-liners. As difficult as it may be, they can almost get serious about handshakes.
Banks speaks of the "three E's. You feel enthusiasm, and by slapping hands or shaking with someone you transfer energy and that creates excitement. E-E-E. Three E's. Of course, it's ethnic," Banks continues. "It's not just a fad. People will keep inventing new handshakes until the end of time because it's a form of expression and communication. You can't have any time limit on shakin'. It's infinite. The shakes are getting so sophisticated now that you walk down the streets of New York or Philly and people are adding dance steps. You see guys shaking hands and it looks like Soul Train."