During Game 1 against the Toronto Raptors in Cleveland, James playfully took a beer out of the hands of a vendor. Pictures and video of James holding the beer, Great Lakes Brewing Company's Dortmunder Gold, circulated quickly around social media.
The next day, Great Lakes added to the noise by featuring a tweet of LeBron holding the beer and announcing that its brewery would feature discounts on its Dortmunder Gold pints and growlers at its pub. Another tweet showed the photo of James with the beer and said "G.O.A.T with the G.O.L.D."
Active NBA players are not allowed to endorse alcohol brands, and James told Cleveland.com that the association was a little bit too close for comfort.
"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 me," he told the website. "And I heard they were the same company that made those 'Quitness' beers [which made fun of LeBron leaving Cleveland for Miami], and now they're trying to benefit off me this way? Yeah, it's pretty funny."
A source told ESPN on Wednesday afternoon that tensions had been eased after the two tweets were taken down. A call placed to the brewery was not immediately returned.
Protecting James' image is important to maintain the high price he commands for endorsements. Also, James told the media after the game that he would have taken a sip only if it were red wine.