Celebrating Thanksgiving with your family is never an enjoyable experience. Who's married? Whose kid is coming out of the closet? Is grandpa's new girlfriend a prostitute or just unsure whether or not family dinners are "bra optional" affairs? There's too much drama involved when loved ones get together and intra-cousin sexual exploration stopped being cool in the fifth grade. So, instead of dining with relatives this holiday season, why not welcome these sports personalities into your home as substitutes?
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10. Allen Iverson (The unemployed nephew who brings a gun to the dinner table)
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Everyone understands that the economy is tough and probably has a family member who still can’t get a job with the New York Knicks. And just like their cousin with an unemployable haircut and Asian character neck tattoos with no real meaning, Allen Iverson is a welcomed addition to any dinner (provided there’s no metal detector at the door).
Sure, he’s made a couple mistakes in the past and may be wearing a court-ordered ankle bracelet by Christmas, but you can’t help but welcome him into your home while making sure he doesn’t steal the silverware or threaten to kill somebody. Unemployed folks deserve a chance for some nice potato salad after getting fired for stealing from the car wash or being a complete and total cancer in the Memphis Grizzlies locker room. They’re family, and it doesn’t matter how many times the neighbors call the cops every time they come over.
9. Any WNBA Player (The homely girl next door whose fake boyfriend is spending the holidays with his parents)
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Every family has a slightly overweight girl next door who works in accounts receivable, has a lucrative side business selling custom made cat clothing she knits while crying into an empty tub of ice cream every Friday night, and nowhere to go when all the popular people at work leave for Thanksgiving break. And much like a portly neighbor, the WNBA may not have a lot of people that welcome it into their homes or will be seen watching it in public, but that doesn’t mean that league MVP Diana Taurasi (pictured above) or Lisa Leslie wouldn’t enjoy a home-cooked meal for the holidays with a group of people who have never likely heard of them.
At this point the WNBA doesn’t have enough money to televise games or feed their players, so instead of taking a legless hobo in for a nice dinner this year, invite someone less fortunate into your house and show the WNBA that it’s a charity worth donating to. After all, according to Wikipedia, WNBA players have feelings too.
8. Gary Bettman (The uncle who is running the family business into the ground)
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Nearly 20 years ago, before Bettman began his reign as the NHL commissioner with weekly cameos on Little People, Big World, he was given control of a longstanding profitable business with limitless potential. Then, like the creepy uncle who decided turning the hardware store into a Nightclub was a great idea, Bettman singlehandedly destroyed the business with “innovative” ideas that community colleges he isn’t qualified (or tall enough) to teach at now study as cautionary tales.
However, just like the uncle who swears “once the economy picks up, this nightclub is totally going to be profitable again,” Bettman refuses to admit that moving the NHL to Nashville may not have been the smartest move. It’s unclear whether or not the diminutive commissioner put a little whiskey in his apple juice box the day he put his size four foot down and claimed “I don’t care if the WNBA is laughing at the Phoenix Coyotes’ attendance figures, we are not moving the team to a lucrative market where they can flourish.” But just like the bankrupt uncle, it’s always nice to hear an innocent child ask “Uncle Gary, why do my Mommy and Daddy say you’re the worst thing to ever happen to this family and they wish you’d go back under the tiny rock you crawled out from under?”
Kids really do say the darndest things.
7. Michael Jordan (Your dad’s uncle who can’t stop calling his ex-wife a “dirty whore” in front of the children)
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Every holiday season someone in the family is losing half their money to a woman who he secretly regrets taking to an MLS soccer game for their 20th anniversary. The divorce rate in this country (as well as Belarus and Finland) is well over 50 percent and the holidays are a tough time for anyone who has a spouse with the balls to walk out of a marriage to someone that makes Kobe Bryant look like a kind, considerate person.
It’s just unfortunate that he can’t refrain from using the words “money grubbing ho-bag” during Kurt Warner’s 45-minute long grace. The fact that Mommy and Daddy could stop loving each other at any time is a valuable lesson for the young ones to learn, but perhaps the onslaught of F-bombs that follow it are a tad over the top.
6. New York Mets Fans (The red-headed step child who has unrealistic expectations about the upcoming meal)
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It has to be tough to watch your popular sister win the awards, be a star, and pleasure Alex Rodriguez underneath the bleachers. Nobody would ever say it out loud, but there’s clearly a favorite in this family and everybody around the dinner table knows it’s not the kid whose intramural kickball team hasn’t made the playoffs since the fat Hawaiian kid named Benny Agbayani transferred to Colorado Rockies Junior High School. Nobody wants to hear about how the red-headed step child is going to have a great year at school because she lost her braces, grew some boobs, and signed Johan Santana to a long-term deal. It’s almost tragic listening to her delusional optimism, only nobody feels sorry for her because of how loud and abrasive she gets.
5. Tim Lincecum (The long-haired hippie relative from California who constantly smells like a Grateful Dead concert)
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The only guy at the table who may eat more than the John Madden-looking guest is the cousin from California with bloodshot eyes who openly wonders if people on Mars like spreading marshmallow paste on their mashed potatoes, too. Sure, he’s going to argue the merits of legalizing marijuana with the family dog and awkwardly giggle during Aunt Sally’s breast cancer story ("dude, she totally said breast"), but damned if he isn’t a killer charades player and a whiz with the leftovers.
Plus as an added bonus, if your son has recently been kicked out of school for smoking pot, you can let him know that if he develops a 96 mile-per-hour, once in a generation, fastball – it won’t matter.
4. Al Davis (The senile great grandpa your parents swear used to be a productive member of society)
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He may smell like death and look like hell, but this man has been through a lot and lived to tell about it. Whether it’s time to make an inappropriate toast to someone who he didn’t realize died seven years ago, request a diaper change during the main course, or offer some inappropriate and potentially racist comments, this veteran of Turkey Day isn’t going to miss a beat. He’s lived for what seems like 94 years and has earned the right to make questionable decisions to put his family in a horrible position that may cripple their well being for generations to come.
If he wants trade next year's turkey for some extra Brussels sprouts this Thursday and then spend the entire dinner complaining about how this family has no future – good for him! He’s old and has the right to act irrationally.
3. Jay Cutler (The brother-in-law who makes a mess anytime he tries to pass something)
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Everybody made a big deal when he decided to come to Chicago with your sister, but ever since leaving his old job in Denver he’s been a little bit of a disaster. His co-workers question his intelligence, the CEO resents trading future stock options for his services, and there are disturbing rumors floating around the city involving two girl scouts, Lou Piniella, and a Moroccan donkey that may get him fired. But you love him and haven’t even thought about making your sister change her last name to save the family from serious embarrassment.
Jay means well, but it gets a little annoying every time he tries to pass the potatoes and overthrows them by 30 yards into the dining room. Then he just starts fumbling around an apology and does it again 30 minutes later with the cranberry sauce. It’s not that bringing in Rex Grossman Janitorial Services for garbage time is very expensive, but Jay is really keeping this family from having any sort of post-holiday season success.
2. Jose Canseco (The scumbag boyfriend your daughter brought home from college that you’re pretty sure is a drug dealer)
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You work hard your entire life and save up enough money for your daughter to go to college so she can fall in love with a roided-up frat boy who seems to take pride in the fact that he’s a seventh year sophomore who thinks people with real jobs are “lame” and still lists “beating up nerds” under the special skills section of his resume that’s displayed as a joke in the employee break room of the Denny’s he was unqualified to work for.
Obviously nobody wants to have Jose Canseco come into their home and begin writing a tell-all book about which family members he suspects are cheating on their taxes, but the gym is closed on Thanksgiving and his frat house gets very poor beeper reception.
1. John Madden (The family friend who brings his own back-up turkey "just in case")
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There’s nothing worse than showing up to Thanksgiving dinner and seeing some sort of grain-fed, tiny bird that wasn’t injected with harmful steroids or, worse yet, a vegetarian home that serves some sandpapered “Tofurkey” with a side of organic green beans and self-satisfaction. Thanksgiving is all about turkey, family, and wondering when the cousin who sounds an awful lot like Jeff Garcia is going to finally come out of the closet.
No need to worry though when Uncle John comes over. He may be long-winded, offer virtually no insight into any conversation, and carry a picture of his hetero life-partner named “Brett” in his wallet, but the guy understands the importance of the holiday. Not only does he show up with his own turkey every year (and a small chicken for the car ride over) but he always smells like gravy and isn’t afraid to openly criticize the parenting techniques of the coaching staff at the kids table.