Hiring a retired athlete to push hemp products has gone from a trend to simply the way things are done in the emerging CBD industry. Now a Colorado CBD company has lured an NBA legend to do more than that.
Earlier this month, Hall of Fame basketball player Isiah Thomas (not to be confused with former Denver Nuggets guard Isaiah Thomas) announced that he had acquired a partnership in VESL Oils, a CBD product manufacturer based in Arvada.
In a statement, Thomas says he enjoys using CBD because it "promotes significant benefits to the human body, both physically and mentally," and wanted to join the business because it has a "potential to be a leader in the market.” Under the partnership agreement, Thomas will promote the company's gels and topicals, which are sold to treat inflammation and joint and muscle pain. Thomas's son, Josh, has also joined VESL, as the company's new marketing director, according to CEO Bobby Scott.
Scott says he established a relationship with the elder Thomas while trying to get his CBD products into the NBA and embraced by professional athletes. During the process, Thomas expressed interest in buying a share of the company, Scott says; he's now promoting the VESL CBD products to his peers in professional basketball.
"Isiah, being who he is and the connections he has, makes it a little better after they go through more collective bargaining," Scott says of CBD's prospects in the NBA, which currently doesn't allow players to ingest CBD products. "Getting our muscle gel into the NBA was the original goal."
Scott sees CBD lotions and creams as fair game, though, and notes that several NBA teams are interested in the future of cannabinoid-based products. He says he believes that Thomas's celebrity and his business connections will help VESL with new athletic-related opportunities.
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The former point guard's struggles, including the sexual -harassment lawsuit he faced as an NBA executive with the New York Knicks and his time as the owner of the Continental Basketball League, a project that quickly went bankrupt under his watch, have all made headlines, but Thomas has been successful in less public business ventures in the printing industry, real estate and his own champagne brand, Cheurline, which is now the official champagne of the NBA. From 1999 to 2002, he served on the Chicago Stock Exchange Board of Governors. Outside of his business interests, Thomas is also an NBA analyst for NBA TV and Turner Sports, giving him a valuable platform during basketball season.
VESL operates in the medical marijuana field as well, with growing and extraction facilities in Oklahoma. According to Scott, Thomas is likely to help push those products, too, if they line up with health and wellness.
"He's a spokesperson for the overall brand," Scott says, "and we're in the process of creating a vertically integrated cannabis brand, inclusive of all cannabinoids. But his focus will be on physical health."
Update: This article was updated on February 25 to correct a claim from Scott that the Detroit Pistons have been testing out a CBD muscle gel from VESL.