Air Jordans have dominated the sneaker industry since before my birth, but those were not the first shoes that fascinated me. I thought the Reebok Pump was the coolest shoe in the world. I saw it on TV, then at Foot Locker, and one day one of my cousins walked into my grandparents wearing a pair. They somehow looked bigger than they did at the mall, and pumping the little basketball was much more satisfying when the shoe wasn’t rested on a perch drilled into a wall.
For years Reebok was like the anti-establishment underdog to Nike’s well-crafted, mainstream dominance. The company had the Above the Rim collection, and was represented by stars such as Shawn Kemp, Tracy McGrady, Shaquille O’Neal, Steve Francis, and Allen Iverson. Michael Jordan and Mars Blackmon were great, but A.I. and Jadakiss trading bars in the A6 commercial slapped.
The company has fallen off in recent years, with John Wall as one of its last basketball stars, and he left after three years a decade ago. Looking to rebound its basketball division, Reebok has announced that it has hired O’Neal and Iverson as president and vice president respectively.
There was a time when Reebok’s name rang out so far and wide that it was the brand of choice for the NFL. The company was recently the athletic apparel sponsor of UFC, but once their deal expired in 2020 it was not renewed.
It has been a long time since the Big Diesel was a part of the Reebok family. He left to make an affordable line of shoes that you used to see in Walmarts, Famous Footwears, and elsewhere. O’Neal said that kids were not opposed to wearing $20 shoes, “they don’t want to wear shoes that look like they cost $20.” Kids wear whatever shoes their parents can afford or are willing to purchase, and a pair of Shaqs in the 2000s would absolutely get a person roasted in the lunchroom.
He is back to where his enormous branding campaign started. I remember the Patrick Ewing shoes from the 1990s, and they looked like they were for a 7-footer who played wearing two giant knee pads. The Shaq Attaqs were made for someone who wanted to fly — and of course that pump on the shoe tongue helped on the initial pairs.
Reebok never ascended to Nike’s height, but the brand was respectable because it was cool. It embraced hip hop’s influence, even giving Jay-Z, and G-Unit shoe lines in the aughts. Of course, the leader of that charge was Iverson.
Thank goodness stores actually made enough shoes for the people who wanted the A5 and A6, because that was the coolest shoe in school. Leave the Air Jordans from those days in the steel briefcase where they belonged, that time belonged to A.I.
With those two as the front of the revival of the brand, I might be convinced to spend three figures even if just for the sake of nostalgia. The pumps, the I3 headband, the T-Mac bucket hat, all of it speaks to a time in which Reebok reflected where the heart of basketball was produced. It wasn’t in Beaverton, Ore. or Hollywood, it was in playground courts across America.
For a time, Reebok went after that audience, and now that two of its former stars have executive roles, hopefully, the vibe of that time can be brought back in a fresh but still nostalgic way.
Original source here
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