Sneakers are an essential part of basketball. But with Michael Jordan’s meteoric rise in popularity in the 1980s, sneakers became a status symbol – and they’ve since graduated to valuable collectibles.
But ignoring the world of sneakers-as-collectibles, functional basketball sneakers are pricey, too. In 2021, a new pair of Lebron 18s cost $200. And while that’s not too far off from what new sneakers cost in the late 1990s, it’s significantly more than they cost to make – and more to the point, it’s more than many can comfortably afford to pay.
Enter Shaquille O’Neal.
On the latest episode of the Full Send Podcast, O’Neal shared his thoughts on, among other things, Reebok and how his relationship with the company ended.
O’Neal recounted an interaction with a woman who criticized him for partnering with a brand that charged such large amounts for basketball sneakers.
“…and I thought about it, and I said you ‘know what she’s right’,” O’Neal said.
“That day, I cut ties with Reebok,” O’Neal continued. “I told them to keep the money (because) this ain’t right.”
Shaq is a legend for this 🙏 pic.twitter.com/qw45qU148M— Joe Pompliano (@JoePompliano) August 26, 2021
O’Neal went on to create the Shaq brand. In a partnership with Walmart, he sold basketball sneakers for $19 and $29 dollars. He even allegedly poached Reebok designers to help in his effort to deliver affordable shoes to kids in need of a well-made product.
O’Neal’s has since sold his company to Authentic Brands Group (ABG); and in a serendipitous turn of events, ABG recently purchased Reebok for $2.1 billion.
“As a longtime partner of Reebok and an owner of ABG, it’s a dream come true to welcome this legendary brand to the family,” O’Neal said in a statement earlier this month.
Adidas acquired Reebok in 2006 but failed to gain significant traction with the brand. Perhaps O’Neal has a better vision for how to do so, but will he stay true to his quest to deliver affordable products? Stay tuned.