Abbott Teams With NBA Players On EAS Brands

Abbott Nutrition has teamed with the National Basketball Players Association to promote its EAS meal replacement and supplement brands, which include Myoplex, Precision Protein and Armor.

Through the one-year agreement, Abbott Nutrition--a division of the pharmaceutical company Abbott Laboratories--will supply $5,000 worth of products to each of the 30 NBA teams. In exchange, the brands will get some exposure at events, although a spokesperson declined to give specifics.

This marks the second sports partnership for Abbott Nutrition, which has since 2004 had an agreement with the National Football League's players union.

EAS products and supplements are marketed for specific athletic needs, with different products for endurance, speed or strength. They include protein and amino acid powders, meal replacement bars and drinks, and supplements.

Abbott has also signed the Chicago Bulls' Ben Gordon as its newest endorser for EAS, which uses professional athlete endorsers on various brands dubbed "Team EAS." Seattle Seahawks Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, for instance, is one of the EAS faces appearing on the EAS Web site and in advertising.

Part of the appeal for the NBPA is control over players' use of supplements, as the partnership comes after a period of increased scrutiny and controversy around athletes using steroids and other banned performance-enhancing chemicals and drugs.

Although Abbott guarantees that its products do not contain substances banned under the NBA drug policy, the association will have a third-party organization test all products that players can receive through the program, according to a spokesperson. NBA players will get a 50 percent discount on permitted EAS products.

EAS supplements are sold at supermarkets and nutrition and vitamin stores and are primarily used by professional and "everyday" athletes, according to a rep. Abbott Nutrition purchased the brand in 2004. Abbott Nutrition's other brands include Ensure, ZonePerfect, AdvantEdge and several pediatric brands, such as Similac, PediaSure and Pedialyte.