Food Rumors

Wine and basketball obviously don’t mix too well on the court, but plenty of players seem to enjoy good bottles during downtime or when they have a break from games. ‘It’s kind of a culture that’s intertwined with the league,’ says 27-year-old Harkless, who grew up in Queens, New York and played college basketball for St John’s Red Storm before making his NBA debut in 2012. He’s humble about his own knowledge, but he has hosted ‘Wine Wednesday’ via Instagram Live for Uninterrupted, the multimedia production group cofounded by LeBron James – who just won the NBA title with LA Lakers – and business partner Maverick Carter. ‘When I talk to the older guys in the league I feel some of them are wine connoisseurs,’ he says, mentioning players like LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony. ‘These guys have been preaching the wine stuff for years.’
Alongside tasting, Harkless has highlighted black-owned wine businesses and restaurants via the Black Lives Now initiative on his website, which also includes links to advice on voter registration and mental health services, plus black contemporary artists and music. ‘I turned my website into a resource hub to support everything going on right now,’ he says. ‘When I did my research there were hundreds of black-owned wine businesses and to me that was a surprise because I’d never heard of a lot of them,’ he says. ‘I’ve taken time to start to try to get to know some of them.’
CJ McCollum never expected his wine, McCollum Heritage 91, to sell out in less than an hour, but that’s exactly what happened when his Oregon pinot noir launched in mid-September. “To be honest, I don’t think it could’ve gone much better,” he said. With the launch, McCollum officially joined a group of NBA players who have their own wine labels, a list that includes Channing Frye, Dwyane Wade, and Yao Ming. But McCollum’s passion for wine has been years in the making, and it blossomed over the summer, when McCollum was living in the “NBA Bubble.” He turned his entire hotel room into a refrigerator in order to keep his collection of 84 wines at the correct temperature.