Luca Banchi and that “figure” with the wine bottles in Popovich

Luca Banchi told Dario Ronzulli about himself exclusively on the Virtus Bologna podcast, NONSOLOVIRTUS, and cited an indelible memory of his meeting with Gregg Popovich:

“Before we left to play against San Antonio and against Cleveland, by agreement with the club, knowing of Popovich’s passion for wine, we showed up with a fair number of bottles of Brunello di Montalcino of good vintage. The night before the game with the Spurs we are invited to dinner. And to the table comes an inordinate number of bottles of the finest wines straight from Pop’s personal cellar, he being a sommelier and collector. He travels the world in search of the best wines, and his cellar is considered one of the best in the entire United States. He selects the best bottles for dinner, goes to this restaurant in the morning, has them decanted, and in the evening then distributes them according to importance. All attached to phrases like. ‘Come on, this very modest ’98 Sassicaia we give to them, who don’t understand anything.’ I swear, there were bottles of thousands and thousands of euros at the table.”

Banchi was so embarrassed that he decided to leave the Brunello on Popovich’s bench the next day, delivering it unnoticed:

With great shame, at the time of the handshake before the game, I snuck into their bench and ran off without being seen because I did not want him to notice that we were honoring him with a wine that was good, but certainly not of the level of his. I think he must have given those bottles away in the end; he certainly didn’t drink them, given the embarrassment of choice in his cellar.”

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