LeBron James' beer swipe was turned into a promotion, and James isn't happy about it

Henry Bushnell
LeBron realizes that this isn’t a Sprite or a glass of wine.

LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers toyed with the Toronto Raptors in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series. Whether they were throwing off-the-backboard alley-oops or letting Dahntay Jones on an NBA basketball court in the year 2017, the Cavs had a whole lot of success and a whole lot of fun on Monday night.

One of the stunts, however, had unforeseen consequences.

James skipped over to a beer vendor during a break in action — in the third quarter of a playoff game — and grabbed a bottle right out of the smiling vendor’s hand. He then pretended to take a sip:


The bottle was in James’ hand for about a second, maybe less. But that was enough time for the beer company, Great Lakes Brewing Co., to take the image and run with it. They began with a since-deleted tweet after the incident on Monday night:

Then they kept running. The following day, the company announced a discount on select drinks at its pub, and promoted the special using James’ image:

This tweet has since been deleted. (Screenshot via cleveland.com)

That tweet has also since been deleted. Perhaps that’s because James and his associates weren’t happy with the company’s use of his likeness. James has no business relationship with Great Lakes Brewing. According to cleveland.com, citing a source close to James, the Cavs star and his people “would consider legal action” against the company.

And their displeasure isn’t just based on the fact that James doesn’t endorse any Great Lakes products. It’s because there’s some history here. Back in 2010, after James left Cleveland to join the Miami Heat as a free agent, Great Lakes sold a special pale ale named “Quitness” — a play off Nike’s “Witness” campaign with LeBron — at its downtown pub.

As you might expect, James hasn’t forgotten about “Quitness.” Here’s what he told cleveland.com about the whole situation:

“This is about the last thing I’m trying to worry about right now, my agent and my legal team will take care of it, but yeah I know [Great Lakes] is trying to benefit off of me. And I heard they were the same company that made all those ‘Quitness’ beers, and now they’re trying to benefit off me this way? Yeah, it’s pretty funny.”

On top of all this, James isn’t even a beer guy. He’s a wine guy:

“Not much of a beer guy,” James said after Monday’s game. “If she had had some red wine, I probably would have definitely took a sip.”

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