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Can Shaquille O’Neal and Allen Iverson’s Reunion Help Reebok Restore It’s Pride in Basketball World?

Published 10/12/2023, 8:52 AM EDT

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The association of NBA stars with prominent sneaker brands works as well as bread and butter. It’s a symbiotic relationship that has revolutionized not only the world of basketball but also the sneaker industry at large. By using these superstars to promote their products, the brands can create a certain amount of goodwill and a specific image for their target audience. While many NBA fans and enthusiasts are aware of the decades-long partnership that Michael Jordan continues to share with Nike, some of them might be unaware of the brand with which Los Angeles Lakers legend Shaquille O’Neal was once associated; Reebok.

Shaquille O’Neal and Reebok had shared an alliance for over 6 years before breaking ties in 1998. That same partnership was recently brought back to the limelight with the news that Shaq, along with Philadelphia 76ers legend Allen Iverson, will be joining the company in major roles.

Shaquille O’Neal and Allen Iverson are given new roles within Reebok

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Over the past few weeks, Reebok had been placing hints on certain plans that would re-establish their foothold in the world of sports. In order to do so, they needed to bring in some high-powered names. And who better to take up the mantle than two former Reebok stars who used to dominate the court in their prime?

Reebok confirmed that it would bring Shaquille O’Neal into the newly created role of ‘President of Basketball’. Along with the Lakers legend, Allen Iverson will also be joining in. He will be working alongside his former opponent as ‘Vice President of Basketball’. The news has generated a significant amount of buzz and excitement amongst fans, as they experienced nostalgia by seeing the two former players back in the sneakers limelight.

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The move came in light of the decision undertaken by Reebok’s parent company, Authentic Brand Groups, to focus more on the brand’s commitment to performance basketball. Since both Shaq and Iverson are principal shareholders of Authentic, it made sense to involve them in these new roles.

Shaq was quick to share the news with his fans, taking to his official Instagram account and highlighting the same on his story. In a separate statement, the 51-year-old emphasized his commitment to making some worthwhile changes for the better.

“We need to capitalize on Reebok’s heritage and product expertise in the sport for today’s youth, but also focus on getting involved in the community from a grassroots level,” said O’Neal in his statement. Aside from their association with the Authentic Group, Shaquille O’Neal and Allen Iverson have had their fair share of experience with Reebok as well.

The two NBA icons share a history with the billion-dollar brand

Shaq formed a partnership with Reebok back in 1992. It was the same year that he joined the NBA via the Orlando Magic.  The ‘Shaq Attaq’ and the ‘Shaqnosis’ sneakers are the two most iconic products released due to this association. Competing with the Air Jordan brand, the sneakers provided a distinction that could make NBA fans feel on the same level as the 7 foot 1 athlete.

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Shaq’s success with the brand compelled them to place forward a $40 million deal in front of the player. To the shock of basketball fans, however, Shaq refused to go forward with the same. Barely four years after shaking hands on a potential long-lasting partnership, the Big Aristotle ended his association with Reebok. During an interview on the Full Send podcast, Shaq revealed that he was once confronted by a woman who criticized the player and the high prices that Reebok charged for their shoes. The complaint had a profound effect on him and his decision to break ties with the brand.

Allen Iverson formed an association with Reebok back in June 2001. By that point, the 76ers icon was already a superstar. The deal provided AI with an annual payment of $800,000. The agreement also stipulated that the player would receive a whopping $32 million payout after he turned 55. After last suiting up for an NBA team in 2010, Iverson officially retired in 2013. The sneakers and jerseys that are produced by the brand under Iverson’s name, however, continue to remain a hot commodity amongst his long-time admirers.

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Unlike Shaq, Iverson continued his association with Reebok and was often seen appearing in certain events hosted by them. With Shaquille O’Neal and Allen Iverson joining Reebok under new roles, the brand’s image could exceed at a level never seen before.

Reebok is BACK!!

Despite retiring more than a decade ago, Shaq’s name continues to remain a prominent force in the NBA circle. The sneakers brand he formed after leaving Reebok reportedly sells more than a million pairs every month. By reforming his association with Reebok, the brand can bring back the iconic ‘Shaq Attaq’ shoe line. This will allow the current generation of NBA fans to experience the things they missed out on.

The sneakers may share some similarities with the iconic Air Jordans. However, they will reportedly carry a lower price tag than the sneakers associated with His Airness’ name. Along with fulfilling the Lakers legend’s promise of providing shoes at an affordable rate, the low price will further help in generating a larger consumer base.

Iverson’s new role would allow him to spearhead player recruitment. At the same time, he would help to involve the brand in various “grassroots and community initiatives”. This would place Reebok’s name in a much more positive light and help to further increase its consumer base.

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Reebok had been having trouble competing against other prominent brands like Nike and Adidas. Ever since Shaq, the brand has been unable to bring in any prominent players that could increase the credibility of their sports shoes. That all will change soon enough.

It may take a little while before Reebok can reach the same level as its competitors. However, according to the author, it’s safe to say that Shaq and Iverson will work hard to bring the $2.5 billion company back to the world of basketball in a big manner.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of EssentiallySports.

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Written by:

Ashmit Kumar

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Ashmit is an NBA author at EssentiallySports. With a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism, he carries a deep passion for writing and researching about basketball events around the world. Ashmit specializes in bringing captivating stories that provide in-depth coverage of teams, players, and significant events associated with the world of professional basketball.
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Edited by:

Pragya Vashisth