In a surprising move for the sportswear industry, Shaquille “Shaq” O’Neal’s appointment as president of Reebok Basketball, with Allen Iverson as his vice president, marks the two NBA legends’ return to the company.
Reebok made the decision to refocus on performance basketball, breaking the norm of NBA players holding high positions in sportswear companies. On Oct. 12, the company officially announced Shaq’s appointment as chief of operations.
Shaq, Mr. President
“As President, I know my role. I’ll be focusing on player development and partnerships,” Shaq explained to Complex. “There’s truly no one more qualified for this role than me. I will oversee basketball strategy, advise on product development, develop partnerships, and work with player organizations. I want to emphasize player development. I remember when I came in; we had a certain type of player with a certain swag.”
Both Shaq and Iverson, who began their NBA careers in 1992 and 1996, respectively, had signed lucrative shoe deals with Reebok. Shaq’s deal was reported as the brand’s most significant sponsorship agreement ever.
Both men eventually became NBA Rookie of the Year and Hall of Famers. While much of the media attention centers on President Shaq, he assured Complex that he and his fellow Rookie of the Year alumnus, Iverson, are great friends and will work well together.
Reebok, headquartered in Canton, Mass., was acquired by Authentic Brands for $2.5 billion in August 2021. O’Neal, a shareholder of Authentic Brands, played a crucial role behind the scenes in this acquisition. In 2006, German giant Adidas purchased Reebok for $2.8 billion, but it divested itself of Reebok in February 2021.
During their collaboration with Reebok in the 1990s, Shaq, who now has a net worth estimated at $400 million, introduced the Shaq Attaq and the Shaqnosis, while Iverson, whose net is about $1 million, had his signature Questions and Answers sneakers. Though both lines were popular, they were overshadowed by Nike’s Air Jordan series.
Shaq is confident that Reebok can regain a strong foothold in today’s basketball footwear market. “There’s a lot of players in the game, but I think there’s room for Reebok to re-enter and reestablish itself as a leader in basketball footwear,” Shaq told Complex.
As Finurah previously reported, Shaq declined to continue his deal with Reebok in 1999, leaving behind $40 million during the early years of his prime with the Lakers to pursue a mission of making more affordable shoes. Shaq Shoes made its debut in 1992.
Iverson’s shoe line, “Question,” was released in 1996 during his rookie season with the Philadelphia 76ers. Iverson, known as a trendsetter in the league, had a unique and stylish design for his shoes. The success of the “Questions” led to the release of the “Answer 1” sneaker in 1997. There are now over 14 different “Answers” and three “Questions” available, with some of them being collector’s items, according to Complex.