Before 2015, it could be said that not a whole lot of people knew what a banana boat was. But once LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Paul popularized it, it became something of a cultural phenomenon.
Well, in a funny, stupid kind of way.
It all began five years ago when James, Wade, Paul and Carmelo Anthony were on summer vacation together — something they would do with one another rather frequently.
A photo of James, Wade and Paul riding a banana boat (together with Wade’s wife Gabrielle Union) then surfaced all over the Internet. Naturally, people began to have fun with it.
Five years ago today!
This picture belongs in the Basketball HOF 😂
— ESPN (@espn) July 7, 2020
Anthony was not present on the banana boat ride, but he was with the group on vacation.
So why was this such a major event? Well, at that time, there was talk that James, Wade, Paul and Anthony wanted to team up to play with one another. The fact that LeBron said he hoped that the group could all play together before their careers were over only provided more supporting evidence.
Of course, James had already played with Wade for four years in Miami, teaming up with Chris Bosh to win back-to-back championships in 2012 and 2013. But Bosh initially was not supposed to be the third member of the Heatles (worst team nickname ever), as it was supposed to be Anthony.
Remember: James, Wade, Paul, Anthony and Bosh all played with one another on the 2008 Olympic team, and momentum for a superteam began to build at that point.
However, Anthony ended up signing a deal with the Denver Nuggets that would push him past 2010 free agency, when James and Wade (and Bosh) were all up for new contracts.
As a result, Anthony had no choice but to stay in Denver and watch the trio form a big three in South Beach.
Paul was still a member of the New Orleans Hornets at the time, so there was never any real discussion about him potentially joining James and Wade in Miami. He was then traded to the Los Angeles Clippers just before the start of the lockout-shortened 2011-12 campaign.
But that didn’t entirely put the kibosh on the chances of the foursome eventually joining forces.
As a matter of fact, Wade reunited with James in Cleveland during the summer of 2017, and that offseason, Paul was set to be a free agent before being signed-and-traded to the Houston Rockets. Because LeBron went year-to-year with his contracts with the Cavaliers, he also was a free agent that summer before he opted to stay with the Cavs.
Obviously, four guys teaming up is difficult. It’s hard enough for three players do it, let alone four. With that said, a LeBron-Wade-CP3-Melo lineup was probably never all that realistic outside of the Olympics or an unfair game of pickup basketball.
That didn’t stop people from fantasizing about it though, and it’s not like the four stars didn’t cross paths separately.
As mentioned, James and Wade played together. Meanwhile, in 2018, Anthony signed with the Rockets and linked up with Paul. Of course, Anthony’s time in Houston was very brief, but he and CP3 were still teammates for a short period of time.
Now, Wade is retired, so we won’t ever get to see the Banana Boys (a weird but somehow understandable name that Wade gave the group in 2016) actually play on the same team. But hey, Anthony will be a free agent whenever the 2019-20 campaign concludes, meaning he could potentially join James in Los Angeles.
Paul — who now plays for the Thunder — has two years remaining on his deal with a player option for 2021-22, so a James-Melo-CP3 trio is probably not as possible. However, you never know.
Regardless, that 2015 photo of the now famous Banana Boat crew is still branded in the memories of NBA fans everywhere today. Yes, it occurred when most of those players were well past their primes (particularly in the cases of Wade and Anthony), but the mere thought of those four sharing the same court with the same uniform was always something people wanted to see.
Twenty years ago, the idea of four high-profile players of that magnitude teaming up would have never even crossed people’s minds, but when Pat Riley and the Heat were able to re-sign Wade and land James and Bosh during the summer of 2010, it basically demonstrated to the NBA world that anything was possible (shout out to Kevin Garnett), banana boat teams and all.