Shaquille O’Neal has always wanted to be a part of the NBA, but was never able to make it happen. Now that he is retired from basketball, he bought the Sacramento Kings for $2.5 billion and became an owner in the NBA.
Shaquille O’Neal’s $2.5 Billion Power Play Makes a Longtime Dream Come True
Shaquille O’Neal, like other top NBA draft prospects, came into the league with a shoe endorsement contract already in place. O’Neal signed with Reebok two weeks before the Orlando Magic picked him first overall in 1992. Reebok was formerly a major participant in the sports apparel and footwear industry. O’Neal aims to restore the brand to its former glory.
Now that Authentic Brands Group (ABG), which holds the rights to O’Neal’s endorsement and merchandising agreements, has struck a deal, that ambition is closer to being a reality. The $2.5 million deal to buy the Reebok brand from adidas, which purchased it in 2006, is expected to complete in early 2022.
Shaquille O’Neal was a part of the Reebok heyday.
The company that would become Reebok began in England in 1895. The shoemaker was renowned among top-level athletes, who first wore the J.W. Foster & Sons shoes in the 1908 Olympics.
The business was taken over by Foster’s grandchildren in 1958, and the Reebok brand was born. The name is derived from the rhebok, a kind of African antelope. Reebok arrived in the United States in 1979 and made a splash with the introduction of the famous Reebok Pump in 1989.
In 1992, Shaquille O’Neal joined the company. In 1995, the business launched the Reebok Shaqnosis signature sneaker. Reebok won the contract to provide NBA and WNBA gear in 2001, which adidas took over after acquiring the company.
O’Neal was outspoken in his dissatisfaction with adidas’ treatment of the Reebok brand. Now he may fulfill his dream of owning the company.
ABG bought Reebok at a loss.
Shaquille O’Neal told CNBC in 2019 that he wants to purchase Reebok due of adidas’s treatment of the brand.
“(They) have diluted (the brand) to the point that it is virtually non-existent. Allow me to have it if they don’t want it. I’d want to reintroduce them to basketball and fitness.”
O’Neal remembered the golden days of Reebok, when he was the brand’s top pitchman and the company was competing with Nike head-to-head.
In the end, adidas lost money when it sold Reebok. It paid $3.6 billion for the brand and then sold it to ABG for $2.5 billion. According to Yahoo Business, O’Neal played a significant role in the talks, according to ABG president Nick Woodhouse.
“Shaq is deeply engaged in both our company and his business with us. So it’s very satisfying for him as well. (Reebok) is the firm that helped him achieve prominence and taught him how to run a business with his athletic prowess.”
President of the ABG, Nick Woodhouse
Most of Woodhouse’s discussions with O’Neal started with whether the company had purchased Reebok yet. The answer is now a resounding yes.
The future role of Shaquille O’Neal
On August 21, 2015, Shaquille O’Neal attends the inauguration of the Reebok Classic Gwangbok-dong shop in Busan, South Korea. | Getty Images/Han Myung-Gu
Shaquille O’Neal, who will soon be a part-owner of Reebok, is expected to play a key role in the brand’s revitalization. The idea, according to Woodhouse, is to collaborate with O’Neal on additional vintage designs from his previous collection. The aim is to introduce such styles to a new generation.
While no agreement has been reached for a business to license Reebok’s footwear and clothing, Woodhouse claims there is plenty of interest.
“It’s hardly unexpected that our phone has been ringing off the hook.”
O’Neal’s business strategy is straightforward yet successful.
“I’m going to invest in things that will make a difference in people’s lives.” My own style is really straightforward.”
Shaquille O’Neal has finally put his money where his mouth is. He was the face of Reebok for more than a generation, and now he’ll be tasked with bringing the brand back to prominence.
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