Shaquille O’Neal has made quite a name for himself during his NBA career. Even after his retirement, Diesel used his drawing power to attract the attention of many followers and tried his hand in a variety of industries and businesses. One of the sectors that Shaq dabbles in is shoe manufacturing. Who makes Shaq’s shoes, and why is the price point so cheap compared with other brands?
Before answering that question, read the next section and learn more about Shaq’s shoe brand history.
Shaquille O’Neal and His Shoe Brand
Shaquille O’Neal has worn different shoe brands throughout his career. During his college stint at LSU, the 7-foot-1 big man primarily wore LA Gear and Nike. Of course, Nike is still the most significant player in the industry, but LA Gear also had a considerable following in the 90s. The brand had Karl Malone, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar under their banner, and Shaq was seen wearing Abdul-Jabbar and Malone’s shoes for the Tigers.
Coming out of college, Shaq knew he was going to blow the league up. He was so sure that he already made the logo for his own brand. When he got to the NBA, Shaq aligned himself with Reebok, but not without a little confrontation. Reebok reportedly tried to lowball Shaq into signing a five-year deal worth $3 million, but he refused. His counteroffer was $8 million a year for five years, plus control over his own brand and commercials, and he got exactly what he asked.
Shaq made sneaker material history in his collaboration with Reebok. The initial installment of the Shaq Reebok shoes was the Shaq Attack 1, the first that featured the use of carbon fiber in a basketball sneaker. Contrary to popular belief, it was not the Air Jordan 11 but the Shaq Attack that first used carbon fiber as a shoe material. It also had the Reebok Pump System in the tongue and a cool-looking leather upper.
Shaq’s shoe line had eight signatures before things came to an end with Reebok. However, he had been working behind the scenes to manufacture cheaper shoes. Shaq recalled a story of how a lady cursed him out as he was walking out of the arena in Orlando for making $200 shoes, which most families, especially children, couldn’t afford.
O’Neal continued: “I was like, ma’am, I don’t make the price, but here you go, I got $2000 here buy whatever you want… she smacked the money on my ass and she said, somebody need to make an affordable shoe, so then I said you know what she’s right, ‘cuz I remember coming up I would never go into home and ask my dad hey can I borrow a hundred dollars and buy some shoes either, he’d look at me think I was crazy.”
No one could fact-check the story if this actually happened, but Shaq pointed to that encounter as the reason why he made it a mission to make affordable shoes. When his contract with Reebok was up, and he was told his shoes weren’t selling as they hoped, O’Neal saw the opportunity and eventually made it a mission to launch affordable shoes under his own brand.
The two budget-friendly sneaker brands Shaq became associated with are the Shaq (or Air Shaq) and the Dunkman. The Dunkman would be Shaq’s on-court brand for the majority of his Laker tenure. O’Neal negotiated a deal with ACI International, a Los Angeles-based distributor, and marketer of Chinese-made footwear. The operation was funded by ACI and Warner Brothers Sports, and the Big Man was in control of design, marketing, and retail appearances.
Two years after getting shipped from Los Angeles to Miami, Shaq reached a deal with Li-Ning. His shoes with the Chinese manufacturer did not really catch the fancy of most hoopers, so it was largely forgettable.
Five years after retirement, Shaq shoes were still for sale, this time at Walmart locations. O’Neal took pride in his involvement in producing budget-friendly shoes and claimed his affordable brand sold over 120 million pairs.
View this post on Instagram
Are Shaq Shoes Made by Reebok?
Is the answer to the question, “Who makes Shaq’s shoes?” Reebok? Well, at one time, Reebok did make the signature Shaquille O’Neal shoes from 1992 to 1998, but Shaq has since moved on. The Air Shaq and Dunkman brands are made in collaboration with ACI International, while Shaq also had a shoe deal with Li Ning from 2006 to 2011. Shaq’s shoes are still sold in Walmart online of the brick-and-mortar store.
How Much are Shaq’s Shoes Typically?
The Shaq Reebok shoes typically cost around $170. These are the starting prices for Shaq’s shoe line under Reebok that the company has brought back as retroes. But with the Air Shaqs and Dunkmans, the prices go way, way down.
According to a previous report, the Dunkmans retailed under Payless around 2004 cost only $40, and some Shaq sneakers sold as low as $12.70. Now, you can see the Shaq sneakers for boys sold at $15, while the Shaq Full Press is priced at $67.99.
Why Shaq’s Shoe Brand Never Became Popular?
It never became popular because that wasn’t Shaq’s goal. The idea was to sell cheap shoes so everyone could afford them, especially the kids. After all, it doesn’t make sense for a child from lower-income families to spend $200 on a pair they couldn’t use for a year.
Another reason why Shaq’s shoe brand did not become popular is marketing. The shoe giants like Nike, Jordan, Reebok, and Adidas sell shoes with as much as a 4,000% markup because they spend money paying basketball stars to wear them. Shaq, on the other hand, does not have that capacity, so it kept the prices and popularity of his shoes down.
Other Brands Shaq Owns
It’s a stretch to say Shaq is a player in the sneaker industry, but his shoes are selling well for the intended consumers, so that’s commendable. However, with a net worth of nearly $500 million, Shaq also owns many other brands in the apparel and food industry.
Some of these brands are:
- Big Chicken
- Marilyn Monroe
- Elvis Presley
- The General
Shaq also owns multiple franchises of:
- Auntie Annie’s Pretzels
- Five Guys Burgers
- 24-Hour Fitness
All of these brands notwithstanding, Shaq also owns carwashes, a movie theatre, and shopping malls. On top of these, Shaq has investments in Lyft, Papa John’s Krispy Kreme, and others, plus endorsements with 50 other brands and companies.
Wrapping Things Up: Who Makes Shaq’s Shoes?
Shaquille O’Neal has remained one of the most prominent NBA personalities even years after his retirement. He is one of the most dominant ever, and as a superstar, has his own shoe line in the 90s with Reebok. However, Shaq realized he wanted to make his shoe brand available for income-challenged people, especially kids, so he made it happen.
With this in mind, Shaq’s shoe line in the 2000s changed from Reebok’s Shaq Attaq and Shaqnosis to Dunkmans. The Dunkmans was cheap alright, selling at only $40 at Payless. Shaq shoes for kids sold from $12 to $17. In 2016, Shaq mentioned that his cheap shoe brands have sold over $120 million pairs in Walmart!
So, who makes Shaq’s shoes, the machine that made everything run smoothly? It was a collaboration between ACI International and WB Sports. ACI is already established as a marketer and manufacturer of Chinese-made shoes, so having them in Shaq’s corner made sense. ACI and WB Sports financed the operation, while Shaq was in charge of the design and promotion. Even though Shaquille O’Neal’s shoes won’t be on any collector’s items anytime soon, the fact that he’s looking out for the kids through his shoe brands is nothing less than remarkable.
If you’re interested in learning Shaquille O’Neal‘s story, check out this basketball biography book.
We hope you enjoyed this post! If you did, be sure to check out our other basketball FAQ articles here.