If you thought LeBron James was just an amazing basketball player cursed with the receding hairline of a middle-aged accountant, you’re wrong. So wrong. LeBron also happens to be a connoisseur of carbonated beverages — a sommelier of soda, so to speak — or at least that’s what the makers of Sprite would have you believe since they currently are selling a special edition Sprite called “LeBron’s Mix.”
Apparently in this day and age, when you sign a superstar athlete like LeBron to promote your product, part of the deal includes handing over the keys to the soda factory and allowing King James to do his best Willy Wonka impression. No longer is a signature sneaker the pinnacle of athletic fame; now, you’re nothing but a baggy pair of shorts and an arm sleeve unless you have your own vanity beverage.
Curious to see how LeBron’s prowess on the court translates to the world of combining high fructose corn syrup with bubbly water, I purchased a two-liter of Lebron’s Mix, cracked a few ice cubes into a cup and poured a couple fingers worth of the sweet ambrosia. The verdict? It looked like Sprite. It basically smelled like Sprite. And it tasted like a hot mess.
Sprite’s official website describes LeBron’s Mix as:
Created with LeBron James, this flavor represents LeBron’s favorite mix of Sprite: Sprite with a twist of natural cherry and orange flavors. Available in 16 oz cans, 20 oz bottles and 2L bottles, the unique flavor reflects LeBron’s style and the crisp refreshment of Sprite.
But judging from the drink’s taste, it would appear LeBron knows as much about making pop as I do about dunking basketballs. Which is to say, very little. Or, to be more exact, absolutely nothing. I couldn’t throw down a dunk on a 6-foot rim and I’m 5’ 11”.
So how did this subpar brew come to be? Here’s a clue:
Judging from the story told in that video, a friend of LeBron’s ordered a Suicide Soda one time, LeBron loved it so much he drank it for the next decade (could that explain the hair loss?) and now Cleveland’s Savior is forcing Sprite to bottle the stuff and sell it in stores. It’s good to be King, I guess.
I’m not trying to hate on LeBron. The dude will go down in history as the greatest baller of all time, even if he never wins another ring. But here’s what someone in his entourage needs to say to the man: Lebron, you have an opportunity for which every chubby, soda-guzzling pre-teen in America would kill. So do something amazing with it! Forget adding cherry and orange flavors to Sprite. Sprite is basically just 7Up with a little extra sugar to begin with. You’re the best basketball player ever to draw breath in the pathetically brief history of man. Use your powers for good! Forget Sprite. Sprite stinks. Tell those sugar-water-making dweebs to bring you the finest ingredients from across the globe. Order them to send teams of unpaid interns to the darkest corners of the earth — MAKE THEM SCALE MOUNTIANS, DAMMIT! — to find a natural sweetener that only grows along the banks of a single stream in Nepal. Or insist Sprite’s Senior Vice President of Lemon and Lime himself assemble a world-class team of Iditarod-winning sled dogs so he can man a solo mission into the harsh barrens of Antarctica to chisel ice from an ancient glacier, ensuring you have the purest water on earth at your disposal. Or demand they employ a team of newborn babies attached to snorkels to fill the water with tiny bubbles, so that your soda boasts the most angelic form of fizz. And then, after taking a moment — a very brief moment, mind you, because you’ve got to get back to putting a ball into a netted hoop — to mourn the deaths of all those lost fulfilling your every whim, combine those one-of-a-kind ingredients in the giant vats that formerly held Sprite before you ordered that swill emptied into the nearest river, and unleash upon this country — nay, this WORLD — the one true soda deserving of carrying the LeBron moniker!
Odds are it will probably end up tasting a lot like Cheerwine, and that’s OK, because that stuff is dope.
Funkhouser Rating: 2.5 Bald LeBron’s out of 5