With such an emphasis on the Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics and Bruins, the players, coaches and personalities that stick around for a while become more than strangers on the television. They become members of the family.
But who do New Englanders truly want to be part of the family? The list could go on and on, but here is a look at the top 10 sports figures that New Englanders would want to invite over for Thanksgiving dinner.
10. Bill Walton
OK, OK, OK. Bill Walton isn't really an all-time Boston athlete, since he spent just two seasons with the Celtics. It's unlikely, though, that anyone else in the world would be more entertaining as a dinner guest.
"Who made these green beans? They are de-leeeeeeesh-us!"
"This apple pie could be the best baked dessert in the history of Western civilization!"
Though if this old Scotch 'n Sirloin commercial is any indication, you might want the entire '86 Celtics team at your house. It's not every day you get a chance to do the wave in an ugly shirt.
9. Tedy Bruschi
Has an athlete ever fit more perfectly with a region than Bruschi does with New England? Despite being undersized, he played with grit, toughness and smarts — and his name is slang for a beer.
New England loves its underdogs (and beer), and there's always a seat at the table for Tedy.
8. Zdeno Chara
Sure, the Bruins' captain seems like a nice guy, but this choice is made more for functionality than personality. Chara could probably share some interesting stories about his childhood and how a 6-foot-9 Slovakian developed into an elite NHL player, but Chara gets the invite for the help that he'll bring to the table with his long reach.
Craving Grandma's yams? Big Z can pass it to you. Want the asparagus that's on the other side of the table? Just ask Zdeno.
By the end of the day, you and your full stomach will be thankful that you invited Chara into your home.
7. Tom Brady
Mr. Brady is not the most charismatic character in Boston sports, but it's not every day that you can invite greatness into your living room. Plus, if he brought along his wife, your family dinner wouldn't be losing any beauty competitions (well, unless you're this family).
6. Johnny Pesky
The 90-year-old Pesky is already an honorary grandfather to many Red Sox fans, so why not invite the man over for a feast?
Pesky's not too large, so it's unlikely he'd eat too much of your food, and if your family is normal, everyone will be happier just by seeing him. And it's a safe assumption that a man who first joined the Red Sox in 1942 has a story or two that you want to hear.
5. Bill Russell
Russell would clearly brighten the room with his 11 championship rings. He'd also brighten the day with his infectious, booming belly laugh (seriously, try to watch this video without laughing).
He might force you to get a little creative with the seating arrangements (maybe put the table legs on phonebooks?), but he'd have the room in stitches before dinner was even served.
4. Pedro Martinez, Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz
There's no way you'd want one beloved Dominican star over another, so you might as well invite all three. Each would bring a different asset to your family dinner. Ortiz would likely camp out in the kitchen throwing spices into the food and whipping up his mango salsa. After the meal, he can sit on the couch and watch some of his favorite films with your family.
3. Tommy Heinsohn
Is your family too polite? Do things get done at an inefficient pace? That's where Tommy comes in.
If the turkey isn't ready on time, Tommy will be there to shout, "This is ridiculous!"
If that crazy uncle lets out a little flatulence at the table, Tommy would scream with incredulity, "Are you kiddin’ me?!"
But make no mistake, Tommy's not just there to criticize. He's there to reward. If the stuffing tastes just right, you know Aunt Jeanine is getting a Tommy Point.
2. Bobby Orr
This one's simple. Everybody likes Bobby Orr. Dads like Bobby Orr. Moms love Bobby Orr. Old people, young people, tall people and short people love Bobby Orr.
He's a charmer, and he's the best to ever wear skates. He is invited to Thanksgiving dinner.
1. Red Auerbach
The engineer of the NBA’s most successful basketball franchise (not to mention one of the main reasons the league is as successful as it is today) gets an invitation. At the expense of smoking up your dining room, bringing the Hall of Famer to your home would have your entire Thanksgiving operation running like a high-powered machine in no time.
Red would be sure to get the right people to do the right jobs. Red would assign the turkey cooker, the place setters and the channel changers (someone has to keep an eye on those football games). He'll also keep an eye on the younger members of the family and see which ones are destined for Thanksgiving greatness. After all, Red builds his teams to last, and with the right draft picks, he could have your family set for championship-caliber dinners for decades.
At the end of the night, the only thing you'd have to worry about is the smoke from Red's victory cigar — a small price to pay for having the most successful Thanksgiving dinner in town.
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