By Dave Begel Contributing Writer Published Nov 24, 2015 at 3:26 PM

Now that the Green Bay Packers seem to finally be back on track, we should all remember to give thanks this Thanksgiving.

But it’s not just the Packers I intend to give thanks for on Thursday. I will also recognize the contributions to my life by others in the world of sports. Here’s what I’m thankful for as a sports fan.


I’m happy I’ve lived long enough to see the six spectacular basketball players in the NBA. First I watched Elgin Baylor play with the Lakers, and he was the best. Then came Oscar Robertson and Jerry West, and they shared the title of the best I’d ever seen. No sooner were they wearing the crown along came Kareem Abdul-Jabbar who was far and away the best. Abdul-Jabbar gave up his crown to Michael Jordan, who could dominate a game like nobody I’d ever seen. But then came LeBron James who passed even Jordan for the kind of dominance that is almost unseen in any sport. He has unmatched physical gifts which are exceeded only by his basketball intelligence. Watching him play is like watching a basketball clinic.

John McEnroe

I love sports on television, and one of my favorites is watching tennis. And one of the very best things about televised tennis is McEnroe. He is honest, brave and smart – things I wish every color guy in every sport would be. McEnroe can spot what’s right and what’s wrong in a game and tell you about it, whether it’s physical or emotional. He’s by far the best in any sport, followed closely by Johnny Miller in golf.

Jimmy Carlton

This may seem self-serving, and people are just getting to know him, but he is the new sports guy at OnMilwaukee. Good sports journalism in Milwaukee is largely absent. The daily paper is a joke except for Packers coverage and columnist Gary D’Amato. In just a few short weeks, Carlton has proved he is going to be someone well worth reading, both for information and for entertainment. His column on the tweeting ability between Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker had me laughing out loud. You can read it here.

Bob Lanier

The former Bucks center has always been one of my favorite athletes and one of the smartest. We used to play Scrabble on road trips, and he was a worthy opponent. One of the best things about Lanier was his honesty. He wasn’t afraid to tell you what he was thinking. In Washington about a week ago, he was a guest at the Bucks’ broadcast table. Jim Paschke lobbed him a softball about how wonderful the Bucks had become. Lanier responded with his own brand of brutal honesty. "They’re a good young team, but they need at least one stud to really move up in this league," he said. "You’ve got to have a couple of stars, and they don’t have that yet."

Kids sports

I have grandkids who play sports. Charlie plays soccer, football and basketball. Alex and Molly play soccer. And there is nothing like watching kids play sports. Seeing their gradual growth in skills and understanding of the games they play is so heartwarming. And it’s not just my grandkids. I love watching all those little people play sports.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Dave Begel Contributing Writer

With a history in Milwaukee stretching back decades, Dave tries to bring a unique perspective to his writing, whether it's sports, politics, theater or any other issue.

He's seen Milwaukee grow, suffer pangs of growth, strive for success and has been involved in many efforts to both shape and re-shape the city. He's a happy man, now that he's quit playing golf, and enjoys music, his children and grandchildren and the myriad of sports in this state. He loves great food and hates bullies and people who think they are smarter than everyone else.

This whole Internet thing continues to baffle him, but he's willing to play the game as long as keeps lending him a helping hand. He is constantly amazed that just a few dedicated people can provide so much news and information to a hungry public.

Despite some opinions to the contrary, Dave likes most stuff. But he is a skeptic who constantly wonders about the world around him. So many questions, so few answers.