IN THE DAYS leading up to the NBA's Florida reboot, New Orleans Pelicans guard JJ Redick contemplated what provisions to bring for a stay in the Orlando bubble that would last at least five weeks. He initially focused only on the necessities and packed light. Then on July 8, once he arrived with the Pelicans at their appointed hotel, the Yacht Club, Redick gauged his room and hotel amenities.
One of his first efforts was to examine the wine list.
Redick quickly found that the list offered a collection of homogenous Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon -- the sort produced by the hundreds of thousands of cases each year. Connoisseurs identify these wines early, quickly move on and never look back. And Redick, like many in the modern NBA, is a connoisseur.
There's a saying in wine circles that all roads lead to Burgundy, a famed French region known for wines of limited production from small parcels of land. And that is where Redick's tastes largely reside. Burgundy is a deep-pocketed investment, as it's among the world's most expensive wines. But in recent years, after several dining experiences at Michelin-starred restaurants in which an elegant Burgundy accompanied a world-class experience, Redick fell in love.
At his hotel in Orlando, Redick did not see any such wines available, or anything close.
"OK," he thought to himself. "I need to remedy this."
Redick dialed his New York-based wine broker and immediately asked him to send a shipment. Then Redick went online to purchase an 18-bottle wine fridge for his room -- something to keep the bottles at the appropriate temperature, ideally around 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
Many of his NBA peers were making similar arrangements.
When 22 NBA teams started flowing into the bubble, so too did wine. After all, the nearly 1,400 players, staffers and others inside the NBA bubble are facing long hours of isolation in their respective hotel rooms on a restricted campus for up to 3½ months. Family and friends are far away. A pandemic is raging outside the Orlando campus. A historic social justice movement continues to unfold. Stress remains high.