You had me at Merlot: Channing Frye talks importance of wine to Cavs title team

LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo by BECK DIEFENBACH/Getty Images
LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo by BECK DIEFENBACH/Getty Images /

The nickname “Wine and Gold” has never been more appropriate than when referencing the Cleveland Cavaliers’ 2016 championship team.

Former Cav and fan favorite Channing Frye, who has his own wine brand (Chosen Family) dished about the role that wine played amongst the 2016 squad and more when he appeared on “The Old Man & the Three” earlier this week. Dallas Mavericks guard J.J. Redick, a noted wine aficionado, and producer Tommy Alter co-host the hit podcast.

This was a fun listen involving the former Cavs stretch big.

To get things started, the trio discussed Frye’s trade to Cleveland (at the 2016 trade deadline) from the (struggling) Orlando Magic.

"“So I went to the Cavs and I’m coming in there with this type of attitude: joking around with everybody, life is good, we have a chance to win a game! We actually can win some games! And these dudes are (walking around) like they’ve got sticks up their a**es. I’m like, ya’ll just won by 30, c’mon man what’s the deal?”"

Sensing the team wasn’t having fun or enjoying playing with one another, Frye took on the role of connector.

"“You know me, I’m putting everyone on a text chain, I’m sending weird gifs at all hours of the night. I’m talking crap to everybody, ‘Bron (LeBron James), Kevin (Love). Finally, me and Richard (Jefferson) were just like, alright, we gotta go see what these guys are all about. So, if ‘Bron had a thing, we went to that. And we’d invite Kyrie (Irving) and Shump (Iman Shumpert) to go. And then if Kyrie or Shump (had an event), we’d invite Tristan (Thompson) or Kevin to go. And then we said, we gotta do (team) dinners (to build camaraderie).”"

Shortly thereafter, Frye started bringing wine on the team flights and his teammates took notice, soon following his lead.

"“We would take turns bringing six bottles of wine (each). LeBron is bringing the big boy wines. Kevin’s brining his Napa (Valley). Tristan’s bringing anything that’s expensive.”"

With the wine now flowing on the regular, the Cavaliers started clicking on and off the court. Referencing a team dinner near San Francisco during a road trip, Frye explained what took place after he and Jefferson took turns buying different bottles for the table.

"“All of a sudden these crazy wines started coming out (ordered by other members of the team). And that’s how I knew our team, number one: we were tight and number two: they each, in their own way had a story for that wine (that they selected) and that was what they were going to put at the table. And whether they knew it or not, that meant something to them, and they were happy to share it with us.”"

As the story goes, Frye and the rest of the 2016 Cavaliers put a cork in the city of Cleveland’s 52-year championship draught. Something former Cavs and their fans alike can raise a glass to.

As we all remember so vividly, that 3-1 comeback was such a thrill for James, Irving, and that Cavaliers squad, and us fans of the Wine and Gold will look back at that one for many, many years to come still. And them then doing so against a Golden State Warriors squad that then had just broken the NBA single-season record for wins (73) that regular season made that even more special.

Next. Cleveland Cavaliers: Top 30 all-time greatest players. dark

Moreover, in regards to Frye, he’s such a character that endeared himself to Cleveland, and he’s always great to listen to on podcasts and/or on television appearances.