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Holiday Round Up

The holiday spirit is in the air, so we wanted to take a quick trip through the sports world to see who is dressing for holiday success, who is showing some spirited generosity, and maybe hand out an imaginary gift or two along the way. 

Much respect and appreciation to Russell Westbrook, who recently paid a hospital visit to one one of his biggest fans, a young man named Janneh who was injured by a
stray bullet in a shooting earlier this year. The incident left him paralyzed from the waist down. Westbrook stopped by to visit for about 30 minutes to help raise the young man's spirits. A shout out is also in order to the folks at NBA reddit, who helped to spread the story and raise money for Janneh and his family. You can read more about Janneh (and donate) here

Westbrook also made headlines for a large, unspecified donation to his alma mater, UCLA. Officials said it was the largest such gift ever given by a former basketball player to the university. For a man who plays with furious intensity on the basketball court, it's nice to see he has a soft spot, or at least a generous one. (Dude is like no percent body fat.)

New York Giants star Wide Receiver Odell Beckham Jr. started out his football Sunday in the spirit of things with these snazzy Christmas sneaks, but turned into a Grinch pretty quickly when opposing defender Josh Norman of the Panthers seemed to take up residence in Beckham's head, and ODB responded with a vicious, suspension-worthy, head to head hit. Then again, when it comes to hits like that, 'tis definitely better to give than it is to receive. 

Reports later in the week suggested that some members of the Panthers team were intentionally trying to intimidate Beckham by swinging bats and looking at him before the game. Nevertheless, Beckham was the only player to be suspended. Barring appeals, he'll have Christmas week off, no doubt with dreams of a playoff spot dancing in his head. 

Also in the NFL, Titans Linebacker Brian Orakpo showed you can be festive and serious at the same time, managing to make an otherwise jolly suit seem downright...intimidating. That's talent right there. 

In the National Basketball Association, the Golden State Warriors are currently steamrolling through the league with a single loss to their names. What to get the team that has everything? The best Christmas gift they could receive would be a few more losses. I mean humility is a virtue, right?  That's one gift Lebron and Company will certainly be trying to deliver during the Cavaliers and Warriors showdown on the 25th. Until then, they'll be singing joyous carols like this one: 

Speaking of Mr. James, here he is with Special Olympic MVP Aaron Miller at the Cavaliers game in Boston earlier this month. Lebron made some time during the game
for the sixteen year old Celtics fan, then finished it off by handing over his game shoes to the young man. It's easy to be cynical about athletes' charitable photo opportunities, but it's not so easy to be cynical about the expression on Aaron Miller's face. Merry Christmas, indeed. 


More Like FUNdraising

When it comes to raising money for a good cause, a little creativity can go a long way. One fantastic tradition that got some attention this month is the Teddy Bear Toss. In Junior and Minor League Hockey Teams throughout North America, there is a holiday time tradition of fans tossing Teddy Bears onto the ice during games. It began with the Kamloop Blazers during the 1993-94 season, but the Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League have become some of the most famous participants in recent years. Here's their record breaking at the time Teddy Bear Toss from 2013.

After the home team scores its first goal of the night, the bears are tossed into the rink and then collected by the team to be donated to hospitals and charities so that they can be given to children as Christmas presents. Here's the 2014 edition: 

And in 2015, The Hitmen once again broke their own record for most bears tossed on the ice during a game on December 6th, when fans got 28,825 of the toys out there. Here's the footage of that bear-storm. 

All in all, a pretty fun and creative way to add some excitement and fan participation into the schedule and do a good deed in the process. Let us know what you think about this tradition in the comments and remember, especially this time of year, 'tis better to give than it is to receive. 


They've Got Those Navy Blues

One of the oldest and greatest rivalries in sports, the annual Army/ Navy game is a highlight of each college football season. This year, the sailors at Navy have some pretty sweet uniforms lined up for the game. Although the whole uniform is eye catching, the real showstoppers of the ensemble are the helmets. Featuring photo realistic images of war ships As Jason Kirk at SB Nation reports, "Each specific ship corresponds to a set group of player positions, with a rationale for each (some better than others, sure)." 

When Quarterback Keenan Reynolds leads the Midshipmen against the Black Knights on December 12th, he'll be wearing headgear emblazoned with an Aircraft Carrier, the "QB of the Naval Fleet." Kickers and special teams players' helmets will feature Mine-
sweepers, and linemen will march into action with Amphibious Assault Ships adding an extra layer of protection to their skulls. Here's the full ship-to-position breakdown, from the press release:

• Linebacker: Cruiser- Provides anti-air defense and packs the biggest punch of Naval surface ships representative of the linebackers on the Navy football team 
• Defensive Back: Destroyer- Known for significant fire power, speed, and anti-missile defense as are Navy's defensive backs 
• Wide Receiver: Submarine- Predominantly utilized as blockers, wide receivers play a key role in driving the Navy rush attack, taking on a stealth-like persona as they blend into the rhythm of the offense but bring significant fire power when called upon, just like a Naval submarine 
• Lineman: Amphibious Assault Ships- Just as a lineman's job is the create a hole for a running back or linebacker, these ships are utilized to establish the "beach head" that enables the invading force to gain access and ultimately accomplish their objective 
• Quarterback: Aircraft Carrier- The QB of the Naval Fleet, the aircraft carrier is the ultimate decision maker; the "quick strike" weapon of the Naval fleet 
• Running Back: Littoral Combat Ship- Like running backs, these fast and nimble ships can navigate through both crowded shallow and deep waters 
• Kicker/Special Teams: Minesweeper- Much like the specific task of the Navy special teams, this small ship has a unique mission of identifying and eliminating mines

That's not all, though. How 'bout them gloves? 

Ever since Admiral David Farragut proclaimed, "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead" during the Civil War's Battle of Mobile Bay, it has become a rallying cry for the Navy. Now the current players will get to pay tribute to that bit of history, and look pretty intimidating while they're at it. 

The Midshipmen bring a 13 game winning streak against the Black Knights into the showdown on Saturday. We'll have to see if they can make it 14 in a row. Football gloves crossed. 


You're Wearing THAT?

With the Golden State Warriors on a historic, record-setting pace and the Cleveland Cavaliers also off to a strong start, their showdown Christmas Day in Oakland promises to be one of the more high profile holiday NBA games in recent years. In addition to the rematch of last year's Finals, 8 other teams will be in action on December 25th, and they'll all be sporting special festive threads

Clinton Yates at the Washington Post spent some of his Thanksgiving holiday getting opinions on the NBA Christmas uniforms from his 15 year old sister, Asha, and 13 year old cousin, Kailani. As he put it: "Teenage girls rule the world when it comes to good taste, so I figured I should take advantage of the brain trust of said demographic to judge the NBA’s Christmas Day jerseys." The whole post is worth checking out. 

What do you think? 

Channel your inner teenage girl and weigh in on these unis in the poll on the top right hand side of the page.