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Shaq and Allen Iverson Aim to Revive Jay-Z and 50 Cent’s Reebok Sneakers

Shaq and Allen Iverson, recently appointed as executives at Reebok, aim to revive the iconic G-Unit sneakers by 50 Cent and Jay-Z’s S. Carter line. The collaboration between G-Unit and S. Carter in 2003 marked Reebok’s record-breaking shoe sales, with 50 Cent reportedly earning $80 million from the venture.

During a recent episode of Complex’s Sneaker Shopping, Shaq and A.I. disclosed their ambitions to reinvigorate their classic Reebok footwear lines.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – AUGUST 28: Shaquille O’Neal is interviewed during the PointsBet Built Differently Media Event at Cargo Hall on August 28, 2022 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images for TLA)

Not Just Any Reebok Sneakers

These sneakers, endorsed by Jay-Z and 50 Cent, were part of their respective shoe lines, S. Carter and G-Unit. Discussions regarding the potential revival of these sneakers are underway at Reebok, the company responsible for their production.

“We know Jay-Z. Jay-Z, if you watching this we want to holla at you,” Shaq said.

There was a clear indication of Jay-Z’s interest in bringing back S. Carters, as he wore his signature shoes at the 2024 Super Bowl in Las Vegas, Footwear News reported.

As reported by Hot97, in 2003, both collaborations became Reebok’s fastest-selling shoes at the time, with 50 Cent claiming $80 million from the sale of the G-Unit sneakers. While the exact earnings from the sale of the S. Carter shoes are unspecified, Complex reported that Jay-Z’s signature shoes, released on April 18, 2003, following the success of his 2002 “Blueprint 2” album, sold 10,000 pairs within hours at a price of $100 each at Footlocker.

In 2014, 50 Cent said his sneakers outsold Jay-Z’s S. Carter collection.

“50, when I call you, holla. Jay-Z, we’ll be calling. We definitely want to give the fans and the consumers what they want,” Shaq said.

It was announced that on Oct. 12, Reebok appointed Shaq as its chief of operations and beloved 76ers player Allen Iverson to usher in a revitalized basketball division. Both Shaq and A.I. have had popular shoe endorsements under Reebok. Shaq’s endorsements include the Shaq Attaq and Shaqnosis, while Iverson had his signature Question and Answer sneakers.

In 1992, Reebok inked a deal with O’Neal, who later played a pivotal part in Reebok’s acquisition by Authentic Brands Group in 2021, according to both companies. O’Neal is second-largest shareholder in Authentic.

As part of Reebok’s RBK Line, the company was the first shoe manufacturer to openly embrace musicians, let alone rappers, into its fold of operations. Rappers before 50 Cent and Jay-Z had worn Adidas, Timberland, and Jordans, as well as high-fashion brands like Gucci, D&G, and Balenciaga, but had not had their own signature sneakers before 2003.

The success of the G-Unit sneakers and S. Carters led to a shock wave that can be seen today, with rappers like Kanye West, who goes by Ye, having two deals initially with Nike — Nike Air Yeezy 1 and 2, were launched in 2009 and 2012 — and then creating the Yeezy brand with Adidas before that partnership fell through because of his anti-Semitic remarks.

Following the success of the S. Carter line, which saw a subsequent release, S. Carter II, a year later, Reebok expanded its partnerships with other artists, including Pharrell, Daddy Yankee, Nelly, Lupe Fiasco, and Paul Wall, Complex reported. 

This diversification was cited as the reason for Reebok ending its relationships with 50 Cent and Jay-Z. A representative at Reebok explained that the marketplace became “oversaturated” with rappers endorsing sneakers.

“At the time, Jay Z, 50 Cent, and Pharrell were at the height of their careers, so it made sense. Then we changed business models in terms of having artists stand by shoes and holding shoes in their hands,” Reebok director of entertainment marketing Damion Presson told Complex. “After a while, I think that it got oversaturated in the marketplace, and we kind of stepped away from the music space. We were acquired by Adidas, and we took on just a whole different lane. Now, music is back. You can see other brands are doing music endorsement deals, and I think music and footwear goes hand in hand.”

The assumption appears to be accurate, as rappers endorsing sneakers, such as Drake, Travis Scott, and DJ Khaled with Nike, have been well-received by fans.

The relaunch of Jay-Z and 50 Cent’s shoes would also mark a semi-business reunion, as both men, former rivals in the New York rap scene, have not directly collaborated since. Their last joint effort was a commercial for Reebok in 2003. Over time, their relationship grew distant as hip-hop rivalries intensified.

Even 50 Cent’s inclusion in the 2022 Super Bowl halftime show, arranged by Jay-Z, was initially not intended to feature him, as the spotlight was meant for Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Mary J. Blige, and Eminem, iHeart Radio reported.

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