MILWAUKEE – Al Harrington was ecstatic when he looked at the Wizards‘ schedule, saw that the team would be in Indianapolis on Thanksgiving and realized that he was going to have a chance to enjoy a home-cooked meal.
Harrington then checked to see what the Wizards planned to do for the holiday and felt guilty about eating a plate of homemade turkey with all the fixings when heard that the team was going to have a catered meal at the hotel.
So he called his mother, Mona Lawton, to see if she would be able to cook a huge holiday meal for all of his teammates. Lawton had never cooked for that many people, but she told her son, “Of course.”
“It’s the first time, so she’s kind of nervous. She keeps asking, ‘You think this is enough? Enough of this? Enough of that?’ ” Harrington said with a laugh earlier this week. “I think my mom’s a pretty good cook. She don’t cook often. It’s not like she’s somebody that’s always in there, but when she go in there, she locks in.”
Lawton will have to be as she prepares a meal for 30 people that Harrington said will include fried turkey, baked turkey, ham, chicken wings, macaroni and cheese, candied yams, dirty rice, spaghetti, salad and deviled eggs.
“And all the pies, cobblers, corn bread. Everything,” Harrington said. “It’s going to be a feast. She making everything she can think of. It’s going down.”
Harrington added that his mother won’t do all of the cooking by herself. “It should be good. She got a little help, one of my aunts flew into town and my sister is there and my wife is there, she got there” Tuesday, he said. “So she’s got a couple of hands on deck cooking.”
Wizards players and a few members of the coaching and training staff will head over around 5 p.m. to eat, watch football and socialize with the Harrringtons. Harrington, who spent two stints in Indiana after the Pacers drafted him in 1998, no longer lives in Indianapolis but his mother has been there since the family moved from New Jersey to join him before his second season.
“It’s my mother’s house, but it’s my place,” Harrington said with a chuckle.
Coach Randy Wittman, a native of Indianapolis, will spend the holiday with his family. “It’s my first time spending it with my family in 31 years. So the schedule worked out pretty good,” Wittman said. “Now I get to go home and see a family I haven’t seen a long time for a holiday.”
Wittman paraded around the locker room after the Wizards’ 100-92 overtime victory at Milwaukee on Wednesday, making sure the team quickly got to the airport for the flight to Indianapolis. John Wall was looking forward to spending the holiday with his teammates.
“It’s great for us. We get to be together as a team and we get Thanksgiving,” he said. “It ain’t the same as being with your family, but this is part of my family. It’s big for Al’s mom to want to cook for us and want us to come over.”
Injured guard Bradley Beal wasn’t with the Wizards in Milwaukee but is expected to join them in Indianapolis, where they will take on the Pacers on Friday. For a team that bonded in Brazil and has begun to establish an identity with five wins in the past six games, Garrett Temple believes the Thanksgiving dinner will provide another opportunity to solidify the camaraderie.
“It’s going to be good. Great team-building for us,” Temple said. “We’re going to see what kind of cook his mom is. I’m betting we’re going to have some great food over there. It should be a great time for us. Hopefully, we don’t eat too much. Because we have another tough back-to-back against the team with the best record in the league.”