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Royal Roundtable: The Thanksgiving Special

The crew shares one thing they’re thankful for this holiday season. 

American Thanksgiving Dinner Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

Akis rests contentedly in the head chair of the Sactown Royalty dining room. The turkey is brined and baked, the sides are ready, and the pies and pastries glisten in the corner. At his side sits his right-hand man for all things Kings. Sporting a Liam Neeson fan club shirt, Greg giggles to himself as he pens a letter to Santa, trying to ruin even the jolly man’s marriage.

A loud voice interrupts Akis’s thoughts. “WHERE ARE THE APRICOTS?” Bryant shouts into the void. “Shut up, Bryant!” Kevin responds. “There are no apricots. This is Thanksgiving, not a Garfunkel and Oates concert. Leave us alone and go scout the next Josh Jackson.” Bryant fumes to himself as Kevin signs another Marcin Gortat jersey with a depressed flourish. His counterfeit autograph business may be booming; his spirits are not. One can only impersonate a former NBA player for so long before it gets to them, Akis muses to himself.

Across the table, Tim greedily assesses the offerings. “Hey Tony, I’ll swap you a leg of turkey for a serving of mac and cheese and two second round helpings of green bean casserole. It will fit on both of our plates, although you’ll have to cut your cranberry sauce to make the deal work. What do you think?” Tony ignores Tim’s desperate, 3,500 word trade request to sneak another bit of Chipotle from underneath the table, yelling at no one in particular that the vinaigrette is the secret ingredient for the best burrito experience. Akis pretends not to notice; he doesn’t need to be re-educated on the virtues of an average Mexican food chain.

A flash of light captures everyone’s attention as Kimani flits about the room, snapping in-action photos of everything from Will dunking his carrots into ranch during the appetizer course to the all-too cool hipster IPA dribbling down Kevin’s beard throughout the evening. His shots are perfectly professional and wholly embarrassing for anyone he catches amidst the throes of feasting.

Ignoring everyone around him, Omer sits quietly in the corner, studying the Thanksgiving spread and how to best attack the entrée and sides with maximum plate-space efficiency. He flips another page on his legal pad, diagramming the breakdown of proper mashed potato to gravy ratio. Next to his studious counterpart, Richard hungrily eyes the yogurt pies adorning the dessert station, mouth slightly ajar with a drop of saliva running into his beard. His custom-made, Kings Andrew Wiggins jersey is peppered with dollops of yogurt from stolen bites.

And then there’s Will on his phone. Again. “Will, get off your phone. Will! Will!” The master of previews glances at Akis. “Just a second, boss. I’ve got one more snarky comment for Grizzlies Twitter and one more anti-Shumpert diatribe to publish, and I’ll be finished up.” Akis nods his assent.

Down the way, TJ’s eyes barely peek above the tabletop, even with her borrowed booster seat. She argues vehemently with Brad about an indie movie that only seven people have ever seen. Every word spewed between her sips gulps of wine is at least nine syllables in length. Brad nods along, pretending to understand her assault, as he tweets the entire conversation, desperately hoping to go viral just one more time. “It’s not going to happen, my friend.” Akis chuckles to himself.

In the far corner, Sanjesh angrily sips his sparkling cider, disgusted at once again being placed at the children’s table. Greg’s three boys, Tim’s son and daughter, and Kevin’s son all pester him with questions about his life, as he ignores the children and assembles the best post-Thanksgiving analysis ever written. At the drinks table at the end of the room, Robby leans against the wall, sipping a martini as he waxes eloquent about Sacramento’s playoff drought and how that directly corresponds to Christine McPherson’s struggles in Greta Gerwig’s Ladybird. Sean voices his agreement, stuffing his face with whatever hors d’oeuvres are available, eating for fuel rather than for pleasure. He adds to the conversation, insisting that the frequent coaching changes in the franchise are akin to the principles of a lame-duck, second-term President. Only those two can follow that particular conversation.

With everyone gathered together, Akis politely taps his wineglass to get everyone’s attention. No one notices. “Everyone, everyone, I would like to try something new this year.” Still, no one listens.

“LUKA DONCIC TRIPLE-DOUBLE!” The room’s conversations die immediately as everyone snaps their eyes in Akis’ direction. “Thank you. Now that I have your attention, I would like to go around the room and share one thing each of us is thankful for this year. Zach Lowe, I mean Tim, let’s start with you.”

Tim: I’m thankful for competitive basketball. That’s it. It may sound like a simple thing to be grateful for, but after that 0-5 start, most of us believed we were headed for another wasted season. Instead, we’ve been treated to a 7-4 run, and three of those losses have come by a combined seven points. The only recent blowout was the defeat to the Nets in which the team was missing De’Aaron Fox, Marvin Bagley, and Bogdan Bogdanovic. I can live with the occasional, injury-riddled throwaway game amidst mostly competitive nights. I don’t know if this team is going to make the playoffs, or if they’ll even stay within the race throughout the entire season, but getting to watch meaningful, close basketball games is a sweet treat for the fan base.

From a non-basketball perspective, I’m forever grateful for my beautiful family: my lovely wife Tori, my crazy son Jackson, and my soon to be one-year old daughter Quinn.

TJ: I’m thankful for the booze that helps me forget I get to watch Luka Doncic play point for the Dallas Mavericks. Oh, you want something more positive? Fine. I’m thankful for non-blowout Kings losses to decent teams that prove just how good our boys actually are without the help of some prominent role players.

Tony: First and foremost I’m thankful that Tim Maxwell is doing his part in spreading the good word about Chipotle’s vinaigrette — the most underutilized menu item in the fast casual industry.

On a more serious note, I’m thankful for our online Kings community here. I’ve probably used that one before in a post like this over the years, but it’s always going to be my answer. The Kings are pretty fun right now, but for the majority of my life as a fan of this team, they’ve been bad-to-embarrassing. There have been plenty of times over the decade of losing when I’ve thought about scaling back my fandom. Maybe I don’t have to watch every game, maybe I don’t need to tweet something snarky at Ric Bucher whenever he writes something dumb about my dumb team, but it’s that feeling of being in this together with the rest of my Kings fan family that motivates me to sign up for 82 games of this year after year.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends.

Omer: I am thankful for TREVOR AR— just kidding. There’s plenty to be thankful for, even despite a decade-plus of futility. The Kings are finally competitive (and winning!) after a dreadful start. Buddy Hield is second in the NBA in three pointers (as of the time of this post). FIBA Bogdan Bogdanovic is real and spectacular. Richaun Holmes has been an incredible value for his contract, and Nemanja Bjelica is reminding us that his deal last year is still a steal as well. Most significantly, the Kings are playing competitive basketball in the city of Sacramento, not Seattle/Anaheim/Virginia Beach/Maloofville. For that, I’m thankful for you, Kings fans. We fought for the team and have waited patiently for winning basketball to root for, and it feels just around the corner.

Sanjesh: Kings wise, I'm thankful to have a team that you can expect to compete and have a chance to win, despite them missing De'Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley early on. The season could've easily been over as soon as it started and what we were so amped up to watch would've been snatched away. But, every single player who steps on the floor is giving it their all and it shows, whether they play one of the league's best or not. This team at full health can be really good.

Non-Kings wise, I am thankful for pumpkin pie and its dominance over all other pies during this time of year and beyond.

Bryant: I’m thankful for Bogdan Bogdanovic and Buddy Hield. Considering their schedule, their new coaching staff, and the last 13 years of Kangz basketball, would have been very easy for this squad to fall apart without Marvin Bagley, De’Aaron Fox, and the 2018-19 version of Dewayne Dedmon. But our two shooting guard snipers have helped right this ship and are two of the biggest reasons this team has been competitive over the last month. A ton of players deserve credit for their consistency and effort—Harrison Barnes, Nemanja Bjelica, and Richaun Holmes have all played excellent—but the Kings wouldn’t be where they are now without Bogi’s insane November success and Buddy’s recent resurgence. I’m also grateful that we’re actually watching enjoyable competitive November basketball from Sacramento... it’s helped keep me from getting re-addicted to Tankathon!

Finally, I’m grateful for the real MVPs of Thanksgiving—deep-fried turkey, mashed potatoes, and green beans sauteed with bacon and onions (the last of which is demonstrably better than any funky casserole mess). Also, dried apricots are a perfect secondary Thanksgiving desert once you’re full on pie.

Will: I’m thankful that Bryant wrote out my exact answer so that I don’t have spend a bunch of time discussing this. Without Bogi’s reemergence and Buddy the flame thrower coming out and saving the season (obviously, shout out to Harrison Barnes and Richaun Holmes as well) my previews would have been a post-apocalyptic wasteland of punnery and film reviews. I was so sure I was going to spend an entire preview writing about Million Dollar Duck instead of an actual Kings game at some this season and now it’s looking like I can put that particular gun back in its holster.

To be a little more real, I’m endlessly thankful for this community and the group of writers that you all put up with everyday. I haven’t spoken about it much anywhere that you all would see it but this time last year, I lost three members of my family and a very close friend of mine and without the love of literally every single one of these writers I’d have never come back from the sabbatical I took mid-season. Even shitholes have light shining down into them somewhere and every comment, DM and “just checking in” was a beam into a very dark point in my life. The Kings being successful registered very little in the way of changing my mood even for a few moments. In comparison: the jokes, genuinely brilliant thoughts and even the (mostly justified) bitching from the readers and writers of this site pulled me out of the hole. I’m only here now because you all are and have been every single time I’ve needed you.

Also, I’m thankful for the Brooklyn know, for signing Iman Shumpert.

Robby: I am thankful for my life being made up almost exclusively of failures and missed opportunities as it allows me to put the Luka Situation in the proper perspective. I am thankful, whether it’s a reflection of the players or coaching or both, for this team showing grit and poise and even patience in this run post-5 game losing streak. I am thankful that, as much as the media at large jokes about it, it mostly feels like Vlade has a plan, even if I don’t always agree. I am preemptively thankful for Dwayne Dedmon, who I am convinced will turn his season around. I am thankful for Arby’s. But not as thankful as Carmichael Dave.

Akis: I’m thankful for this incredible group of talented and committed writers we have assembled over the years and for this amazing community. Covering this team can be exhausting, through the ups and many downs, but the commitment and effort everyone has put in over the years makes me proud. I’m thankful for Will, who makes sure every game preview is funny and informative. I’m thankful for Tim, who is relentless in his analysis and his desire to see this team become great. I’m thankful for TJ for her biting wit and for teaching me a new word every time I read one of her pieces. I’m thankful for Sanjesh, who has evolved from merely writing recaps to detailed video breakdowns and more, all while studying and going to college. I’m thankful for Kimani, who spends so much time and effort to provide us with amazing shots from the games. I’m thankful for Blake Ellington, our own beat reporter who brings us coverage from the players and coaches themselves (and on that note, I’m thankful to the Sacramento Kings for opening their doors to us as non-traditional media and letting us provide said coverage). I’m thankful for Richard, who I’m convinced we’ll all be talking about one day as one of our favorite national writers/reporters. I’m thankful for Brad, for taking the reins on the podcast and taking it to new heights. I’m thankful for Robby, whose ability to articulate a point while being pithy and entertaining is second to none. I’m thankful to Kevin, for giving our social media presence its unique voice. I’m thankful to Bryant, who should probably be on an NBA team’s scouting staff. I’m thankful to Tony, who covers this team despite living across the country and having to stay up till 1am if he wants to watch a live game. And I’m incredibly thankful for Greg, my right hand man without whom this site couldn’t function on a day-to-day basis. Without them and without you all joining us, there would be no Sactown Royalty.

So Thank you everyone, and have a wonderful Thanksgiving.