LeBron James

LeBron James move to Los Angeles has been a positive for the NBA. Though the Lakers aren’t expected to contend for a title this season, it’s clear that the league’s brightest star belongs in L.A.

As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, it only seems appropriate to give thanks to the man upstairs for the gift of sports. After all, in addition to stuffing our faces with turkey, dressing, collard greens and sweet potato pie, many of us will spend the holiday weekend on the couch watching sports. So in honor of Thanksgiving, here are three things I’m grateful for in the sports world.

LeBron in L.A.

While many people were upset when LeBron James departed Cleveland for Miami in 2010, there was much less outrage when he bolted Cleveland for Los Angeles this offseason. It’s almost universally recognized that James, the brightest star in basketball, belongs in L.A.

Now that the superstar forward is draped in purple and gold, one of the preeminent franchises in the league has shot back into prominence. Without some blockbuster trades (Bradley Beal, anyone?), the Lakers aren’t expected to compete for a championship this season. With James though, “Showtime” is back and the team is now exciting to watch.

James’ biggest impact and greatest achievement to date in L.A. may very well be his ability to overshadow LaVar Ball.

Think about it. Before James’ arrival, Ball consistently made headlines for his outlandish remarks. Now King James rules the sports headlines and Ball has faded to the background where he belongs. He pops up every now and then just to let us know he’s still around. However, he’s nowhere near as annoying now that James has taken over the spotlight.

NBA League Pass

Once upon a time, I believed that the NBA League Pass was a waste of money. After all, the NBA features nationally televised games on ABC, TNT, ESPN and NBA TV on a nearly nightly basis.

Now that the league’s superstars are concentrated on about a dozen teams, the League Pass is worth its weight in gold. Each night, I can go home knowing I won’t be forced to snooze through the Atlanta Hawks versus the LeBron-less Cavaliers.

I can watch my beloved-but-average Mavs, who will not be in many featured matchups this season. I can watch Giannis Antetokounmpo euro step and dunk on almost all 29 opponents across the NBA. Or if I’m feeling a little ratchet, I can tune into the Washington Wizards game to witness an entire team cussing each other out and threatening to Latrell Sprewell each other.

The one bad thing about the NBA League Pass is the league’s silly blackout rules. For some ridiculous reason, the NBA blacks out all games for the Memphis Grizzlies and Indiana Pacers for St. Louisans. The NBA really expects us to drive over four hours to see the Pacers or Grizzlies live. That’s simply not going to happen.

If you’re going to ask people to fork up over hundreds of dollars for access to all games, it should include all games. This is particularly true for fans in states like Missouri where there is no NBA team. Besides that small gripe though, the NBA League Pass is the way to go for basketball fans.

Mizzou football resurgence

The Missouri Tigers football team started out a ho-hum 4-4. Amongst the four defeats were heartbreaking losses to South Carolina (37-35) and #12 Kentucky (15-14). It looked like the Tigers team was in for a down year and might be omitted from the postseason bowl games.

Larry Rountree III

Missouri running back Larry Rountree III has been part of a strong rushing attack that has helped the Tigers earn three consecutive victories after a ho-hum 4-4 start.

However, the Tigers rallied around QB Drew Lock and a powerful rushing attack with Larry Rountree III and Damarea Crockett to right the ship.

Suddenly, the Tigers rattled off three straight wins over #11 Florida (38-17), Vanderbilt (33-28) and Tennessee (50-17). If Mizzou can do what it is supposed to do and knock off 2-9 Arkansas this week, the Tigers will sit at 8-4 and be assured to land a decent bowl game.

Now, instead of wondering whether coach Barry Odom will get the ax at the end of the season, Tigers fans are wondering what if the Tigers had pulled out victories in those two razor-thin losses. Most importantly, Mizzou has once again silenced the haters who claim the black and gold doesn’t belong in the SEC.

Follow Ishmael and In the Clutch on Twitter @ishcreates.

Ishmael H. Sistrunk is a columnist and the website coordinator for the St. Louis American and www.stlamerican.com.

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