Sports and alcohol don´t go hand in hand. Or they shouldn´t do in theory. This does not seem to apply to wine, and in recent years a real obsession with wine appears to be in place at NBA.
The name of Lebron James is often associated with wine. It is not unusual to find wine mentioned in Jame´s Instagram account. But he is not the only one! Names like Stephen Curry, Jimmy Butler, Kevin Durant, or Chris Paul, to name but just a few, can also be grouped amongst wine fans.
It is not easy to explain why NBA players are into wine. There is probably not just one single reason. In 2016 Jimmy Butler traveled to Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games with a wine case. Many NBA stars travel with wine and share their favorite wines with other team members.
This passion is not 100% new. It may have been given more exposure thanks to social media, but many famous sports stars have enjoyed the bug of wine and even start wine ventures.
An example from Spain: football or soccer is Spain´s most important sport, and Real Madrid is its top team. A generation of soccer stars known as La Quinta del Buitre, went crazy about wine after having enjoyed a day wine trip near Madrid. Soon after they decided to open their own winery in the early 2000s. The business did not work out as expected, but who said loving wine and being famous was a guarantee for business success. This is just an example in Spain, a way to illustrate that NBA stars passion for wine is not an isolated case.
What could be behind NBA stars’ love for wine? Today´s basketball reality is connected to unseen hours of training and attention to detail. Players pay attention to many variables behind success or failure. This attention to detail and the analytics behind today´s games may explain the attention paid by NBA stars to issues like soil, weather, grape, cork, and many wine production aspects. One thing seems clear; the NBA love affair with wine seems, like old vines, well rooted in stable soils.
NBA retired pivot Yao Ming started a wine business with an eye on China and his fame to guarantee success. Larry Bird partnered with Mitch Consentino to create his own “game-winning wines”. It will not be a surprise to see many future stars investing time and money in wineries. Team-buildings have been organized at wineries, superstars like Carmelo Anthony joined top-level wine tasting clubs. The passion is not just about drinking, but about understanding what lies behind a great wine. Carmelo Antony, after a good number of years of interest in wine and lots of time dedicated to learn and taste, has recently launched his own wine. Many will probably follow.
For younger players joining the trend may not be so simple though. Wine can become a complicated matter and it can also end up being intimidating. But many players start to find an interest in wine when they approach their 30s.