Yes, NBA players are paid very handsomely to do their jobs even on the days they'd rather not do them, but they are still human beings, which makes them susceptible to the universal emotion of feeling bummed out that you have to work on a holiday. That bummer gets compounded when you have to work far away from your home, as is the case for players on NBA teams in the midst of road trips that have them spending holidays somewhere other than under their own roofs.
Due to the quirks of NBA scheduling, one such team, the LeBron James-led Miami Heat, gets the unfortunate two-fer of traveling for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. For the former, though, they'll at least get something resembling the comfort of home. With Miami in Ohio (but not in Miami, Ohio, natch) to take on the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday — for whom, as you might have heard, Akron-native James used to play, and whose fans and even former teammates would like it if he decided to do so again in the near future — the Heat's staff switched up the team's travel plans "so James could host Thanksgiving dinner at his northeast Ohio home," according to Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press:
"We would have loved to have been here for the holidays, Thanksgiving and Christmas being here in Miami," James said. "We don't mind playing on those holidays. Wish we could have been here, but I am happy that I'm able to do something for the team for Thanksgiving."
James has tried to address every detail, like telling the team to wear casual attire and asking Shane Battier what beer he wants with dinner. James' wife and his chef will split the cooking duties.
Let me stop you right there, LeBron — Battier will take Bud Light, thanks.
More from the AP:
"We're not at home with our families for Thanksgiving but it couldn't work out any better that at least we could be in someone else's home," Miami's Dwyane Wade said. "And it's a very nice home that we're going to, so I'll make sure I'll put on the right clothes and the right socks, gotta-take-your-shoes-off-at-the-door type of house." [...]
For this team, James is thankful. That's why he's rolling out the welcome mat Thursday.
"I'm a great host," James said. "It's natural for me. I don't mind giving guys what they want — what they deserve."
I'm sure it will surprise precisely no one that Wade's concerned about which clothes (and specifically which socks) to wear, and it's likewise unsurprising that James — so committed to getting others involved and keeping them invested on the court — would welcome the opportunity to give his teammates a bit of a boost. And as everyone knows, science has proven that there is no greater boost than the one you get after eating turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, yams and macaroni and cheese; that's why we're all going to be so energetic on Thursday evening.
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