Wizards Give Thanks, Eat Chitlins
So the real reason I went to Wizards practice yesterday was because I wanted to ask Gil about eating hamburgers for Thanksgiving. But the media availability, which so angered Dump and Chase, turned into a Thanksgiving fest, so I didn't even have to ask all the questions. As wizardsdotcom blogged yesterday, Comcast SportsNet's Terrence Stroder drove much of the conversation by asking various players what their Thanksgiving wishes were. Most of us didn't understand the concept of Thanksgiving wishes. Neither did the Wiz.
"Do we get wishes on Thanksgiving?" asked Eddie Jordan. "I've heard of birthday and Christmas."
"My Thanksgiving ritual?" asked Antawn Jamison. "Eat as much food as possible. That's the only ritual I have, eat as much food and watch the football games."
[As an aside, Terrence says Thanksgiving wishes must be a Southern thing, and in truth, I shouldn't make fun of the question, since I was ridiculed twice yesterday for asking dumb questions. First I asked Jarvis Hayes if he had wanted to leave the hospital after that nasty spill on Saturday night. I didn't think that was a stupid question. For me, hospitals are like airports and train stations and malls and hotel lobbies; as long as you aren't grievously ill, they're kind of comforting places, with all that artificial lighting and jello. Jarvis didn't agree. Neither did the media horde.
[If I could make an aside to this aside, my favorite Jarvis comment yesterday came when he was asked if he blacked out after his spill on Saturday night. Here's what he said: "They say I might have blacked out a little bit, but I don't exactly remember."]
[Continuing the original aside, at one point Antonio Daniels was going on about how much he loved his teammates, so I asked whether he would prefer spending Thanksgiving at home or on the road with his wonderful teammates whom he loved so much. He looked like I had just asked him whether he'd rather play with a real NBA center or Brendan Haywood.
"Are you asking if I would rather be on the road with my teammates, or would I rather be at home with my 15-month old daughter and my wife?" he said. "I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say I'd rather be at home with my daughter and my wife, even though I love these guys to death." Fine.]
Anyhow, Thanksgiving was clearly on the table, so to speak, so we [read: I] began asking every player who walked by about their likely Thanksgiving menus, egged on by a Wizards employee who chose to use this occasion to discuss the possible culinary differences between NBA and NHL players' Thanksgivings, a discussion I won't broach on this of all days. (Thanks, Kramer).
The menus actually started with Jamison, who has family in Memphis and said he planned to eat turkey, cranberry sauce and sweet potato pie. "I used to eat honey baked ham, but I cut down on my pork the last couple years," he explained.
Official beat writer and Minnesotan Ivan Carter said something about fried turkey. "What do you know about fried turkey," Jamison said dismissively. "You're from Minnesota."
Later, I told him I had never had fried turkey, which is true. "You've never had fried turkey before?" he asked. "Man, you're trippin'." Then he looked at Ivan. "I know you've never had fried turkey in Minnesota," he said.
Anyhow, the menus:
Ann-dray Blatche: "Ham, mashed potatoes, collard greens, cornbread, yams."
Roger Mason: "Hopefully some turkey. I'm gonna see if I can get my hands on some macaroni and cheese, maybe a little greens. We're gonna be in Memphis, right?"
DeShawn Stevenson: "McDonald's."
Michael "Ruff" Ruffin: "I don't know. I haven't even thought of it to tell you the truth. Turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes."
James Lang (who's supposed to be losing weight): "Shoot, I ain't gonna eat nothing for Thanksgiving, my family ain't gonna be there." This is actually his first Thanksgiving away from his family, he said, sadly. He looked pretty glum about the prospect. What would he eat in an ideal world, we asked. "Macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, potato salad, turkey, creamed corn, cornbread, broccoli, peas, squash, candied yams, peach cobbler," he said, plus a lot more stuff. I couldn't possibly write fast enough to keep up with his appetite. "I can't eat that...I can't eat nothing," he said, sadly. We asked what he would actually do. "Probably go to a restaurant and eat a turkey sandwich or something," he said, sadly.
Donell Taylor: "Chitlins, of course. We're from the South."
Caron Butler: "Dressing. I love dressing."
Eddie Jordan: "Turkey, gravy, I don't know, whatever our trainer has for us."
See, the team plays in Memphis on Friday, and there are actually plans for a team dinner in the hotel. Maybe it's easier to be wistful about being without your family on the holidays when you never actually have to spend time with your family on the holidays, but the Wiz were wisftul.
"It seems like we're always on the road," Eddie said. "The only time I wasn't on the road I was in the hospital with a blood clot on Thanksgiving, so I haven't had Thanksgiving at home in a long time. It's pretty much dinner, football, and then the coaches get right back to working again."
"I would rather be at home with everybody, but that's how it is, you've got to just accept it," Butler said.
"You know, we won't be at home, so we'll be with each other," A.D. said.
Players said they try to find nearby family members when possible. Jamison, as mentioned, has family in Memphis. Caron Butler has family who will travel up from Georgia and bring him plates of food.
"I think we're in Memphis, I don't really know too many people there, so I'll probably be in the hotel," Etan said. "We're kind of used to it, it's kind of how it's been since college, so we're always away or on the road. Even in college, you're playing in a Thanksgiving tournament somewhere, so you just have to have Thanksgiving when you come back....You kind of just get used to it. It's usually like that for Thanksgiving and Christmas. That's just the way it is."
Incidentally, having struck out on Thanksgiving wishes, Terrence moved on to Thanksgiving thanks things. As much as it makes me feel like a producer for an NFL game, editing together little snippets of players wearing Pilgrim outfits and holding gourds and cornucopia centerpieces, here's what the Wiz said they were thankful for (and none mentioned blogs):
A.D.: "For everything. Honestly. Me personally, I'm a very blessed young man. I always have been, especially now. You know, I have a beautiful little girl, a beautiful wife, a great wife, and the best job in the world. You know, I get to wake up every day to something I love to do, somewhere I love to come, and guys I love to be around. So I'm very blessed."
Etan: "Oh, everything. I give thanks for everything. There's not one thing I can't give thanks for. I'm definitely blessed, I'm blessed to be able to play a game that I love, you know what I mean? I'm blessed with my family, blessed just all around, so I've got to give thanks for everything."
Eddie: "I'm giving thanks for everything: being here, being healthy, my family, you know, having the great, great job that we have. That's pretty much it. You know, do we have time to really contemplate and think? It's a very short time frame to think about that. I know you have to, because that's what the day is for, but, you know, there's a gameplan for Memphis that I'm worrying about. That's just a fact of life in the NBA."
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