As I sat at my dining room table yesterday, surrounded by my family and copious amounts of food, we began to go around the table and say what we were thankful for. Admittedly, I was rather annoyed. For the record, I have nothing against the exercise of discussing what everyone was thankful for at all. In fact, I think reflecting on what we have to be thankful for is something we should all do more of. What I do have a problem with is the timing of it all. Think about it; I have just spent the last 10 minutes carefully constructing a heaping pile of food. My mashed potatoes (which I look at as a gravy reservoir) are strategically placed in order to perfectly complement all the casseroles, stuffing, turkey, vegetables, and other carbs I have piled on my plate. My plate allocation is precise; there is no room for error. The food is hot, the gravy has been poured, and I am ready to go, yet, I have to hear that my cousin is thankful that Tom added her on Snapchat. I am sure Tom is great, but I been watching game film for over a year to prepare for today's meal and I have 5000 calories in front of me that are getting colder by the second. She could be talking about Tom Hanks and I still couldn't care less. In that holiday spirit, when it came my time to say something, I quickly muttered "family and friends" and passed the ball to the person next to me quicker than the hot potato Markelle Fultz gets rids of on every free throw attempt. I am thankful for a lot, but that moment was not the time or place to get into it.
However, as I write this now with a full belly, I would like to give thanks to the following:
I am thankful for Khalil Mack
This is a given and honestly, if you aren't giving thanks for Khalil, I am going to label you as being an ungrateful person. Mack changed the entire season for the Bears and you are kidding yourself if you think the Bears would be in position to make the playoffs for the first time since 2010 without adding Mack back in September. He has single handily won us at least two games and the confidence he has brought the entire team cannot be overlooked. In a game where 22 people participate at all times, it is hard to imagine that one player, especially one that doesn't start with the ball, could have such an impact on the outcome of each game, but Mack really does. He has lived up to all of the hype and I hope he knows he has a seat at our table for Thanksgiving for the rest of his life.
I am thankful for Lauri Markkanen
Lauri has yet to play a game yet this year, but his return next month is the only Christmas present I need. When Markkanen rejoins the team, he will immediately become the Bulls best shooter and with him in the starting lineup, teams will no longer be able to solely focus their defensive efforts on Zach LaVine. I was skeptical of Markkanen when he first arrived in Chicago, but he quickly won me over with his aggressiveness and work ethnic. His game improved drastically over the course of the season and he showed potential to be an above average rebounder, which I would have doubted ever being possible just a year ago. He was the seventh pick in the draft last year, but if you were to redraft that class again today, an argument could be made that he would be the 3rd player taken after Jayson Tatum and Donovan Mitchell. Markkanen should be representing the Bulls in all-star games in the near future and has already distinguished himself as the best basketball player from Finland in NBA history. If Mack declined by hypothetically Thanksgiving invitation, Markkanen would be the next person I would invite.
I am thankful for Matt Nagy
I have a very unpopular take, but hear me out. I don't necessarily think Mitchell Trubisky is that good of a quarterback. As of today, he is on pace to break basically every bears single season quarterback record and yet, I am still not entirely sold on his talent. He is still quite inaccurate at times and although he has only thrown nine interceptions this season, he could easily have double that; the number of near or dropped interceptions has been more than plentiful and eventually, an interception correction will occur. However, despite all of this, there is little doubt in my mind that Trubisky will be our quarterback for the next 10-15 years and that is because of our rookie head coach Matt Nagy. Nagy came to us with less experience as a head coach than I was comfortable with, but is now running away with the NFL coach of the year award in his rookie season. Much Like Herman Boone was the right man for the job at T.C. Williams, Nagy has transformed our offense into a modern day offense (which in Chicago is unheard of) and has us in great position to make the playoffs for the first time since 2010. Most importantly, he has put Trubisky into a position in which he can succeed. His game planning and hand holding of our second year quarterback has been key to Trubisky's development. If you put Trubisky on another team or god forbid, John Fox was still here, I believe we would be second guessing Trubisky's future with the organization. Trubisky has talent, but look how good Chase Daniels, who had two career stats going into yesterday, did with essentially zero first team reps. A 106.8 QB Rating is nothing to glaze over; Trubisky is talented, but without Nagy, our offense isn't half of what it is today.
I am thankful for Zion Williamson
Zion Williamson is the most exciting college basketball player in my lifetime and singly handily provided Duke with a year long sabbatical from being hated by most of America. He is must watch TV and I the thought of him in a Bulls uniform next year is enough to make every loss we suffer this year a little more bearable, if not welcomed.
I am thankful for my mom's stuffing
I assume that at the best restaurant in heaven, my mom's stuffing is served alongside every meal. It is just that good. If I am ever on death row (let's pray this is not foreshadowing), I wouldn't hesitate for a second when asked what I would want my last meal to be before I met my maker.