The Answer’s unstoppable style changed the culture of the NBA. Now, he aims to do the same for the cannabis industry.
Al Harrington has been one of the leading former NBA players and professional athletes pushing the medicinal benefits of cannabis. Viola, the company he founded in order to provide opportunities for both wellness and economic empowerment for the overlooked and under-served, recently celebrated its 10th anniversary.
Now, an inimitable Hall of Famer has joined Viola as its first-ever talent partner.
On Thursday, 11-time NBA All-Star, 2001 NBA MVP, and Hall of Famer Allen Iverson — the one and only Bubba Chuck — joined Viola and their purpose-driven cannabis brand. The collaboration will become a mainstay of Viola’s growth plan and overall business operations.
“I hit Chuck with the idea of partnering together a while ago. I’ve always looked up to him for what he did for the culture and when he was in the league and wanted us to bring that to the cannabis space,” Harrington told Boardrooom. “We took our time to research and find the perfect strain for this first drop.”
“It was Al. He’s been my guy for years and seeing him educating people, including myself, and doing his thing… for me, it was a no-brainer,” Iverson said of the partnership.
Though they were never officially teammates in the NBA, Harrington and Iverson formed a bond over the years. AI came to be one of the biggest style icons — or iconoclasts — in all of sports, creating a lane for individual fashion that players continue to take increasing advantage of today.
Al Harrington and Viola have always looked to find ways to dismantle the stigmas surrounding cannabis that are rooted significantly in racism. Allen Iverson will be remembered forever for crashing the gates of the NBA with a singular energy that changed the aesthetic of the game both on and off the court.
With their powers combined, they’ll aim to demonstrate to an ever-expanding audience that cannabis and its related products, from buds to pre-rolls to concentrates and beyond, can be normalized for recreational use while offering relief for individuals around the world struggling with symptoms like inflammation, anxiety, and pain.
“Together, we’re going to change the game. The same energy that I had when I played, I want to bring that to Al and Viola and help take it to the next level,” Iverson said. “Al’s been leading in this industry, and now that we’ve teamed up, we’re going to do it together and change lives through the power of the plant. We’re not just shaping the culture; we are the culture, so we have a responsibility to push things further in the right direction.”
The ambitious team-up will have a proper launch at two west coast dispensaries this fall, but as Harrington notes, he and his partner have bigger goals than just retail offerings.
“We want to continue to inspire and show people of color and players the opportunities available to them in the cannabis space,” he said. “We’re dropping the first strain Oct. 2 in California exclusively at Elevate and Jaderoom. After that, we’ll expand into our other markets beyond that.”
Harrington and Viola have been asking important questions about society’s attitudes towards marijuana for a decade.
As of today, they have an Answer.