Every year, families get together for Thanksgiving in an effort to spend time with one another, eat some good food and to ultimately find themselves in front of a TV screen, glued to the games of the day. The thing is, for the most part those games change every year , which is understandable, but I still think it needs to be a guarantee that we get to see certain matchups every year, no matter what. If we know for a fact we’re going to end up in a full blown food coma, the least thing the networks can do is make sure we get to see the games we want before we pass out from all the Tryptophan –it makes you sleepy, ignore the science trying to tell you otherwise– and pie.
What are the 5 matchups that should be a surefire lock year in and year out?
1.) LeBron James vs either Kevin Durant or the Chicago Bulls
This is the only one that depends on a specific player and will obviously go away once he retires; but in the meantime, we need to see LeBron on that court on Thanksgiving, even more so against one of his “rivals”. The ideal matchup used to be LeBron against Kobe, but with Kobe being on his way out and the Lakers just not being a good team, this isn’t something the fans want to see; so who would he square off against? Either Durant or the Bulls.
Durant is currently the clear number two in the NBA and while he’s not likely to challenge LeBron for the crown, these two put on one hell of a show when they square off. Even if Durant were to leave the Oklahoma City Thunder and go to say, the Washington Wizards, it would still be LeBron vs Durant and fans will eat that up faster than anything Grandma or Mom can put on the table.
If the NBA were to say they don’t want to see a matchup of one star vs the other and would prefer to see teams face off, well there’s an obvious choice for that one –it’s coming up next;– but as a secondary option, just have LeBron take on the Bulls in what is always a heated game, no matter what team LeBron is on. Ever since Joakim Noah came to Chicago and decided he wasn’t going to lay down to The King, the Bulls have scrapped like no other team, against LeBron. When Derrick Rose arrived, that heated rivalry got even more intense, because there was an offensive player that could go nearly toe to toe with The King in terms of scoring. When LeBron has been pitted against the Bulls, there’s always bad blood that boils over into an instant classic and what better day is there to put them up against one another than on Thanksgiving?
2.) The Los Angeles Lakers vs The Boston Celtics
I mentioned the NBA wanting to see a team vs a team, rather than depending on specific players and this is so obvious, it’s almost painful. Even though the Lakers and Celtics are just horrid right now, their track record speaks otherwise and their fan bases are as intense about their hatred for one another, as you can possibly get. If you root for one, you bitterly despise the other, which always makes for a memorable game and one that fans know they can’t miss, regardless of the talent on the court. I’m not a fan of either one and I cannot for the life of me stand Kobe Bryant, but if these two teams meet on a meaningful day like Thanksgiving or Christmas, it’s always worth tuning in to.
3.) The Dallas Cowboys vs the Washington Redskins
This is the perfect game for the perfect day, not only because it features a “Cowboys vs Indians” type theme –not PC, but accurate none the less,– but it also is another game that features bitter rivals who will want to tear each other apart the entire time they’re on the field. I’m all for the brutality that’s inherent in these games and with it being a division game, there’s more at stake than simple bragging rights. Regardless of the players they have to put out on the field, these two teams will send out their ball boys to line up, if it means they manage to defeat their foe. When you get two professional teams who are willing to scrap as much as these two, it makes for a Thanksgiving day game where you can vent your frustrations for having to eat that cranberry cocktail your aunt keeps insisting on bringing.
4.) The Detroit Lions vs the Green Bay Packers or the Chicago Bears vs the Packers
Okay, here’s the thing: my first choice is honestly to see the Packers face the Bears, but I acknowledge the fact that the Lions play every single Thanksgiving; it’s just what they do. If the Lions have to play, I want to see them face the Packers, because who wants to see the Lions against the Minnesota Vikings every year? Not even fans of those teams really want to see those games. I know I know, the Lions have some great players, but even Megatron reigning hellfire down on his competition, doesn’t make up for a typically ugly game; turn that around and have Megatron needing to unleash his fury on a team like the Packers and that changes things in dramatic fashion. While I don’t doubt that Aaron Rodgers will keep trying to match or break the single game touchdown record, a rival will always put up the best fight and will provide the more entertaining matchup, versus a team they play every few years or maybe in the Super Bowl, were the two to make it that far.
Speaking of a rival game for the Packers, this is no offense meant for the Lions, but the ideal matchup for the Packers on Thanksgiving is far and away the Bears. These two teams loathe one another on a level that I think only the Lakers/Celtics can understand. When they’re on the field across from one another, there’s always a good chance we’ll see someone leave the field on a stretcher and it’s nearly a guarantee it will be a close game. When you’ve got a turkey leg in hand and mashed potatoes on deck, there’s nothing better than seeing the Packers and Bears going at it on a gladiatorial type battle to determine who’s the clear cut best in the division.
5.) The Pittsburgh Penguins vs the Philadelphia Flyers
For those who want to see some hockey, I don’t care what team you root for, no one in the NHL hates each other like the Penguins and Flyers do –some may argue the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens, but you’re wrong.– While football has gotten less brutal over the years, with so many steps being taken to tone down defense and put an emphasis on player safety; they NHL has limited the amount of fights on the ice, but the big hits keep coming, the relentlessness of players hasn’t lessened an ounce and when you take those facts and introduce pure and absolute malevolence, you’ve got a recipe for a best of the year type game. Sure, when the playoff’s roll around these two turn things up to 11, but on a day where they know fans are watching, things being cranked up to a solid 10, still tend to shake the walls and blow out the windows. If they can only present a single hockey game on Thanksgiving, there really is no better option than this all Pennsylvania rivalry.
Cover Photo: Getty Images