Professional athletes are always looking for new trends or hobbies that they can possibly dive into. When you have an unnecessary amount of money and the majority of your time is consumed by one activity, searching for something else to obsess or preoccupy yourself with comes naturally. Whether it be super cars, expensive clothing, or the finest jewelry, there is always something for the rich to spend their excess money on. In LeBron James’ case, he chooses to follow the path of red and white grapes.
LeBron’s obsession with wine is something relatively new to social media and it has even become a meme in plenty of different circles of the Internet. What’s interesting is that LeBron has been a wino for some time now, but once the Twitter-sphere got to it, it turned into something that fans of any team can take part in enjoying.
LeBron has been showing of his taste for wine ever since he was kicking it down in South Beach with former Miami Heat teammate, Dwayne Wade - who has also shown patterns of being a wine enthusiast.
This iconic photo from July 2015 has a ton going on. It was one of the first indicators that the “Banana Boat” crew was a thing, as it came right after the actual photo of four grown men riding a boat-sized banana (Would you rather fight a boat-sized banana or a banana-sized boat?). Second of all, the clinking of four half-filled red wine glasses kicks off what would turn into LeBron’s new social media niche.
It wasn’t until late 2015 when fans learned just how into wine the best basketball player in the world was. Golden State Warriors forward and current (not so) arch-nemesis to LeBron, Draymond Green, made a bet with the King regarding the result of a then upcoming college football matchup between Green’s alum, Michigan State, and LeBron’s favorite college team, Ohio State. The bet? $2500 worth of wine. Michigan State would win the game and LeBron followed through on his bet, sending Green some 2010 Silver Oak Cabernet, which retails for $110 (so he sent him roughly 22 bottles of the stuff?).
LeBron must have a problem with gambling away his precious alcohol, too. One year later, in November 2016, LeBron made another bet on another sporting event, this time with Dwayne Wade. Once again, LeBron wagered his wine on his home team, the Cleveland Indians, to take home the World Series trophy over Wade’s hometown Chicago Cubs. The Cubs would go on to win the series and Wade made sure all of social media knew it.
The bet had more to do with dressing each other up in the opposing team’s uniform, but these two couldn’t leave the wine out of the equation. Maybe it’s because they love to eat out together. Wade even once referred to LeBron as the “menu whisperer”. “When we eat out he's like, ‘You should try this,’ and he knows exactly what to order for me. This might get me in trouble, but I would have LeBron order for me before I would let my wife [actress Gabrielle Union]. She'd get me nine different things to be sure there's something I like. LeBron just knows.” said Wade in an interview with Food & Wine.
Is LeBron the best kept secret of the wine community? Is he secretly the greatest sommelier that the National Wine Association (I can only assume that’s a real thing) has to offer? Kobe Bryant was gifted the nickname “vino” towards the end of his career (although that was strictly because he was, in fact, getting old), maybe he’s the true wine GOAT? But it almost seems like LeBron was meant to fall in love with the vineyard products. LeBron had a house in Miami complete with a wine cellar which practically no rich human in Miami goes without. He has played the majority of his career for a team who’s main colors are, you guessed it, wine and gold. You can even pay for a statue of LeBron to inappropriately hold your wine for you.
Even LeBron’s Instagram is cluttered with random photos of wine that is far out my price range.
Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia 1990 ($375)
2010 Colgin "IX Estate" Napa Valley Syrah ($395)
2013 Staglin Booth Bella Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon ($200)
Now, I am a bartender (albeit, a 21-year old bartender) so I know some of these words, but basically, LeBron doesn’t get his wine from the corner store. These are high-end bottles of wine that to me still taste just like the $9 bottle I bought the other day from that same corner store.
This year, 2017, has been the year of “LeCabernet James”, which I will now refer to him as whenever he and wine are mentioned together.
LeBron posted this video to his Instagram story back in February during a time when saying that the Cavaliers were struggling was beginning to sound like a vast understatement. This video is what made me believe that everything was going to be fine and the Cavaliers would find a way to piece it together in the playoffs. If LeBron is so unconcerned with the team’s effort to the point that he is sitting in his driveway listening to Future while drinking wine, then why should I be concerned too?
Then LeBron almost tried to drink a beer mid-game and the Internet lost it’s mind.
After the Cavaliers won that game, LeBron joked that “She had one (beer) in her hand, so I took it out of her hand. But I’m not much of a beer guy. If she had some red wine, I probably would have definitely took a sip.”
First off, “probably would have definitely” lit my ears on fire and yes I am that snide. Second, I realized through this moment that LeBron doesn’t just like wine, he needs it. He was so bored with whatever brand of basketball the Toronto Raptors were trying to showcase that I fully believe if that woman were drinking red wine, LeBron would have employed the ole’ sip steal technique. He couldn’t even make it through the post game press conference without talking about wine after going down 2-0 in last year’s NBA Finals. He is obsessed with wine and watching him drink it like a 31-year old dad is hilarious to me. LeCabernet James is a wine devotee and maybe once his NBA career eventually winds down, we’ll see him in a sun hat walking through his own personal vineyard. I leave you with this picture from 2014.