How Shaquille O’Neal Continues to Beat Michael Jordan & Other NBA Greats Off Court

Published 01/11/2021, 10:37 AM EST
AUSTIN, TX – OCTOBER 14: Shaquille O’Neal Behind the Scenes of American Express Stage at Austin City Limits Festival on October 14, 2018 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Rick Kern/Getty Images for American Express)


Who doesn’t know Shaquille O’Neal? The man who dominated the league along with Kobe Bryant and established himself as a Lakers‘ superstar. However, the lesser-known side of Shaq is his entrepreneurial skills and how he got success by not just focusing on his business, but also on what the customers need.

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How Shaquille O’Neal entered the sneaker’s business

Signature shoe deals have been a part of the NBA league since the 1970s. Every single player wants one, and Shaq was no different. Before the 1982 NBA Draft, the then-20-year-old Shaq had met with Nike and Reebok, hoping to make a deal. However, Shaq’s desire to have his own shoe did not sit well with Nike, who then declined his offer.

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So, he turned towards Reebok, from whom he received a $15 million offer that included an apparel line and signature shoe. In fact, when he asked for more creative control, Reebok couldn’t say no.

From 1992 to 1998, this deal made Shaq and Reebok millions. They ended up making six signature shoes together, but one incident changed Shaq’s outlook towards his business.

Partnership with Walmart that changed fans’ lives

As per Joe Pompliano, In 1998, when Shaq was on his way out of the Orlando arena, a mother was seen cursing at him. She posed the question, “Why don’t one of you s** o** a B****** make an affordable sneaker?” in front of him that made him wonder. He even offered her $200 which she violently refused.

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The Lakers legend stopped to think about the enormous difference in the actual cost of basketball shoes and how much a typical family could spend. This led to his decision to leave Reebok and start his own line. A thought occurred in Shaq’s mind and he turned to the biggest retailer in the world, Walmart.

LOS ANGELES, CA – JULY 16: Shaquille O’Neal is seen at ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live’ on July 16, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by RB/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)

It’s been two decades, and Shaq has been selling most of his shoes at Walmart for $15-$30, compared to Nike’s $200 and more. This helped him sell over 120 million pairs of shoes.

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While he was mocked for this decision, it turned out beautifully in his favor. He is the perfect example of what happens when the needs of the customers are put first. Doing things your own way always has its ways of working out. This is why he is a great businessman.

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Yashima Bhatia

1329 articles

Yashima Bhatia is an NBA writer for EssentiallySports who specialises in providing nuanced predictions and updates for matches. She has a Bachelor's degree in journalism and mass communication. Yashima's love for playing the game came up at a young age, when the excitement of the games coupled with the intensity of the Playoffs had her hooked.

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