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  • Writer's pictureAuthor T.D. McLaughlin Talks

Game Recognizes Game: Shaquille O'Neals Journey from BballGreatness to Business Mastery (Business)

Shaquille O'Neal, a name synonymous with basketball dominance since the early 1990s, has always been a larger-than-life figure both on and off the court. While his athletic achievements are the stuff of legend, it's his strategic business acumen that truly sets him apart. The Big Diesel, Superman, or simply Shaq, as he's affectionately known, has shown time and again that "game recognizes game," a phrase deeply ingrained in the sports world, transcends the hardwood and finds its place in the corporate arena.


In 2015, Shaq made headlines with a forward-thinking move that has since become a trend in the entertainment industry – he sold his likeness to Authentic Brands Group (ABG). ABG, a company holding the rights to a diverse range of brands, including Forever 21, Juicy Couture, Nautica, Eddie Bauer, and Barney's New York, was at the forefront of transforming the way celebrities and athletes leverage their personal brands. To this day, Shaq remains the second-largest shareholder in ABG, and his visionary decision paved the way for others to monetize their image in new and inventive ways.


However, Shaq's journey as a business mogul dates back even further, to 1998, when he made another bold move. He parted ways with Reebok and struck a deal with the retail giant, Walmart, to distribute his own Shaq sneakers. The Shaq aka Dunkman sneaker, priced at an affordable $30, quickly became a sensation, selling over 400 million pairs. This deal was a testament to Shaq's understanding of his fan base and the power of affordable, accessible merchandise.


Fast forward to the present, and Shaq has come full circle. Recently, he was named President of Reebok's basketball division, rekindling his relationship with the iconic sportswear brand. Shaq's involvement in Reebok signals a new chapter for the company, much like how he rejuvenated the Lakers in the late 1990s and early 2000s, bringing home three NBA championships.


One of the hallmarks of Shaq's success has been his ability to recognize potential in others, both on and off the court. Just as he had Kobe Bryant as a running mate in LA, Shaq is now enlisting the help of another legendary player from the 1996 NBA draft class – Allen "The Answer" Iverson. Together, they aim to take Reebok back to the pinnacle of the sneaker industry, currently dominated by Nike and the Nike-owned Jordan Brand.


But here's where Shaq's genius shines through once again. Instead of opting for the conventional route of signing an NBA player, WNBA star, NCAA standout, or viral streetball sensation, he's chosen to think outside the box. Shaq, the master of recognizing talent, has signed Angel "Bayou Barbee" Reese, an NCAA national champion and double-double specialist from Louisiana State University.


This move is reminiscent of Shaq's game-changing decisions in 1998 and 2015. By signing Reese, he's banking on the idea that game recognizes game. Just as he's consistently demonstrated in his career, Shaq knows that in the ever-evolving world of sports and business, being ahead of the curve can lead to extraordinary success.


In the weeks and months to come, we'll see how Shaq and his formidable team work to revitalize Reebok, a brand with a storied history in sports and fashion. If history is any indicator, we can expect nothing short of greatness from this iconic athlete turned business visionary. In the game of basketball and the world of business, Shaq has proven time and again that he knows how to recognize the game and win it.

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