As we begin the Thanksgiving holiday, it felt appropriate to look at the delightful meals we will share and compare them to the delightful basketball players we have enjoyed watching ball. All player-food comparisons are made in the most respectful and analytical way possible. So, here’s why LeBron James is the turkey…
The staple and symbol of the Thanksgiving meal is the turkey. The centerpiece of most meals, the turkey takes the most preparation and is likely given the most space on the table. LeBron James works in the same way on the NBA table, the centerpiece of most conversation, and likely the most prepared for every meal/game. How else could someone the size of a linebacker so seamlessly play point guard, while also barrelling over opponents in the post like a speedy Karl Malone?
LeBron as turkey is further epitomized by how much talk is given about the central player in NBA storylines. Even when his teams fall short, the narrative focuses largely on how big he came up in the moments that mattered, and how integral he was to the team getting as far as it did. In the same way, a Thanksgiving meal is often remembered and spoken of first based on the success of the large bird in the middle. Savory? Tender? Delicious? What a fabulous meal for all! Dry or even, dare we say, washed? Well, at least there are other sides…
The turkey retains an additional importance, particularly when the juices are used in creating the gravy. In the same way, LeBron James’ importance to the Lakers, and before that the Cavaliers and Heat, can also be measured in the players he brings in to be part of his main course, or even the side dishes who come along for the ride like James Jones. For the Lakers, however, that gravy was good enough to eat with a spoon in the form of former All-Star and All-NBA forward Anthony Davis.
Davis is large and impactful enough to one day be a turkey himself, but at this time, his placement on the Lakers is a direct result of the turkey being there, much like a good gravy can have the turkey juices to thank. The Brow and the brown sauce are equally comparable, as like gravy can truly be added to many other parts of the meal to make them even better, Davis’ presence in the middle and his outside shooting combine to allow spacing for both the Danny Greens and Dwight Howards of the world. Maybe gravy can’t be a dish on its own, the same way Davis struggled without other All-NBA talent in New Orleans, but paired with a turkey that captures most of the attention and some good sides, well you’ve got the making of a great meal and a championship contender.
We can’t talk gravy for long without minds and stomachs immediately being reminded of mashed potatoes. Strong, fluffy and also strongly able to mesh with other parts of the meal, mashed potatoes find an appropriate player comparison in a strong player who has the court vision, passing and finishing skills to mesh with others, while also being a lot to handle on the inside — Nikola Jokic. The Joker might have a funny nickname or even an out-of-the-NBA-ordinary body shape, but his game is no laughing matter. Able to find his teammates for easy baskets, and adept at finishing and game-winning on his own, Jokic is as important to the Denver Nuggets as mashed potatoes are to the Thanksgiving meal.
And yes, mashed potatoes are fluffy, not lumpy. And yes, you could use similar terminology to refer to Jokic himself. Still, I prefer to focus on the fortitude that both mashed potatoes brings to the table and Jokic brings to the court. Even though his scoring average might be down, Jokic is still finding ways to help Denver win, often sacrificing his own stats to get his teammates involved. In the same way, who hasn’t dipped their turkey in some mashed potatoes or mixed a little stuffing in and felt the whole bite was better? Jokic makes all the bites of the Denver Nuggets offense and defense better with his potato-like presence.
Now to allow everyone to get to their table quicker, here’s a few quick bites:
Not as integral to the meal as their mashed counterparts, but a dish on their own that takes longer to get going. Not unlike a player who is able to control an entire offense with his moves, even if they take a little longer to develop — James Harden.
Lots of ways to make it and seemingly integral to the Thanksgiving meal, though when you look closer, it is just a lot of white bread. Stuffing the NBA stat-sheets night after night and making himself integral to the NBA fan’s meal — Luka Doncic.
Too much goodness for any single sitting, sweet and filling, and made even better with a little whipped cream on top. In the NBA, we have a player who is too much for any one defender to handle, and with increased three-point shooting, he’s getting even better — Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Dessert dish that’s part of the meal? No wonder some say that this is the GOAT of the Thanksgiving table, despite often being overlooked. Some people only want the marshmallow topping, but the whole thing together is amazing. In the same way, some people know Candace Parker from her work as an NBA commentator and analyst, but if you pay attention to her main job in the WNBA, you would see one of the greatest basketball players of all-time. She’s playing in LA too, just doesn’t get talked about as much as LeBron.
Whatever you have on your Thanksgiving table this year, I hope you appreciate the potential player comparisons on your plate.