If you get Wyc Grousbeck and Wes Edens on the phone together, it won’t take long before the pair start playfully trading jabs.
“Wyc has an incredibly irritating habit of bringing his one and only championship ring out to NBA meetings,” joked Edens. “There’s only one of them, which in itself is not that impressive, but there is one. I grant you that.”
“Wes, if I had two, I would bring both,” quipped Grousbeck, “and then you could have one.”
Grousbeck, lead governor of the Celtics, and Edens, co-owner of the Milwaukee Bucks, are behind two of the most relevant franchises in the NBA. So it should come as no surprise that they can’t help but engage in a little trash talk when given the opportunity.
“How’d it turn out last year, Wyc?” asked Edens, knowing full well the Celtics collapsed in their second-round playoff series against the Bucks.
“You lost,” Grousbeck replied. “Just not to us.”
The banter is all in good fun — and likely won’t stop anytime soon. The Bucks, led by reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, sit atop the East. The Celtics, with the talented tandem of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, have title aspirations, too.
The teams are slated to face off Friday evening inside the HP Field House at Walt Disney World, where the NBA is resuming its season following a four-month hiatus because of the coronavirus pandemic. Friday’s game marks the first “regular-season” action for both teams since March, so Grousbeck and Edens are traveling together to Orlando to catch the action.
The two men are business partners as well. Joining with Grousbeck’s wife, Emilia Fazzalari, Los Angeles Lakers owner Jeannie Buss and Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan to form the tequila company Cincoro.
“This is not going to be a high-tension event,” Edens said. “Later in August, I don’t know.”
Instead of watching from their typically courtside seats, the duo will be masked and socially distanced in the otherwise empty stands. They’ll also have their temperature taken prior to entering the arena, and, once inside, they won’t be able to interact with any players or coaches.
Although things will certainly be different than usual, watching games together is nothing new.
“Oftentimes when we get together, Wes will say, ‘Hey, why don’t we fly on my plane?’ ” Grousbeck said. “If we win the game, I probably will have to go get a plane ticket.”
After meeting in 2014, when Edens purchased the Bucks, Grousbeck and Edens initially crossed paths solely at league functions. Things changed two years later when all the now-business partners decided to meet up for dinner at the owners’ meetings in New York City.
While waiting for their table, the group passed the time with a conversation about a spirit they all enjoy: tequila. From there, Cincoro was born.
“I think it was a real bonding moment for all of us at the start,” Fazzalari said. “It’s what pulled us all together, this pursuit to create the most delicious tasting tequila.”
Added Edens: “One of the things shortest in supply in your life is time to spend with your friends. You have an activity that demands you spend time and collaborate and work together, it’s a real blessing in disguise.”
The one-year anniversary of the Cincoro launch is Sept. 18, which, because of the shifted NBA calendar, is right around the time the Celtics and Bucks could be squaring off in the Eastern Conference finals.
Should that be the case, the victor surely won't let the loser forget it. But the support between Grousbeck and Edens is real.
“There can only be one team that can come out of the East,” Edens said. “If it’s not us, I hope it’s the Celtics.It all starts again Friday night when we go to Orlando.”
“And hopefully return together,” said Grousbeck with a laugh.