The year 1992 was a very good one for Shaquille O’Neal. Shaq was drafted number-one overall by the Orlando Magic, selected Rookie of the Year and even released his own line of sneakers.
Now, more than 20 years later, his playing days are done and his four NBA Championships have been earned. But starting today, Shaq’s classic Reebok shoe line will be baq in stores – in sizes smaller than a 22, of course.
On Tuesday, Shaq made a surprise appearance at historic EBC Rucker Park in Harlem, New York. He made sure to thank those who are responsible for bringing his shoes back to store shelves.
“First of all, I just want to shout out all the young kids who brought them back,” Shaq said. “They’re actually more suitable in 2013 than they were when I designed them back in the day. I’m seeing them all over the place and they look like they belong.”
The first pair of shoes to be re-released will be the ShaqAttaqs. They were a phenomenon of their time for their design and technology – in which Shaq had almost all of the input in designing and marketing in the early ‘90s.
“I’m not a designer, but I was allowed to tell the person what I wanted. The Orlando Magic colors were blue and black, and I already had the emblem,” Shaq said. “The emblem was based off of Michael Jordan’s emblem and the way he dunked. I dunk with two hands and knees up. I patented that in high school, patented it as well in college. I patented it then because I knew if I became big time that that would be my emblem.”
Shaq said he had more than 1,000 sets of ShaqAttaqs because he played in a new pair every night. “I like to play in my shoes hard.”
Even though Shaq loved the ShaqAttaqs, his favorite shoe was actually called Shaqnosis, whose design was inspired by the television show The Twlight Zone. They’re white shoes with a black hypnotic swirl on them.
“I thought the spiral thing would look good on some sneakers,” Shaq said. “They were my favorite because when I was watching tape, I was moving so fast, I would get dizzy.”
For Shaq, the re-release of his sneakers is a big deal – maybe even bigger than the original release.
“The most exciting thing is that kids are rushing to get them, kids are calling me to get them,” he said. “My kids are trying to start a side business to take all their friends orders. My kids get them for free and they’re trying to sell them to all of their friends. I had to say no, we aren’t going to do that.”
Shaq might be putting the brakes on his kids’ shoe-selling business, but he has some advice for kids who dream of having their own shoe line someday.
“Follow all of the rules, and stay out of trouble,” Shaq said. “If you become a great player – anything is possible.”
Photos: (top) Shaq talks with reporters about his Shaqnosis shoe at EBC Rucker Park in Harlem, New York on July 9, (middle) Shaq during his days playing with the Orlando Magic. (Photos courtesy Reebok)