Shaquille O’Neal entered with high expectations to become one of the league’s top talents. The buzzing hype helped O’Neal secure an endorsement contract with Reebok. Before he closed the lucrative deal, he chose a petty way to tank his meeting with Nike.
Shaquille O’Neal earned $286 million over 19-year NBA career
O’Neal established himself as one of the greatest players in NBA history.
The star big man’s stellar performance helped him lock into several lucrative contracts throughout his career, earning approximately $286.3 million. The contract money total ranks as the seventh-most in NBA history, including making $166.5 million during his eight seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers.
The rest of his contractual earnings are split between his time with the Orlando Magic, Miami Heat, Phoenix Suns, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Boston Celtics.
Meanwhile, O’Neal racked up an impressive resume earning four NBA titles and three Finals MVP awards, garnering a regular-season MVP award, receiving 15 All-Star game selections and 14 All-NBA Team nods. His dominance on the court led to his jerseys being retired by the Lakers, Heat, and Magic.
Before O’Neal began his NBA journey, he sidestepped an endorsement deal with Nike in the pettiest way possible.
Shaquille O’Neal purposely wrecked his endorsement deal meeting with Nike in the pettiest way possible
O’Neal‘s meteoric rise as one of the most promising collegiate players pushed him into the limelight to garner a lucrative shoe deal.
Shortly before becoming the first overall pick in the 1992 NBA Draft by the Orlando Magic, he spoke to Nike and Reebok regarding an endorsement deal. O’Neal quickly latched onto Reebok as the landing spot due to the company offered him a signature shoe.
During a recent interview on Jimmy Kimmel Live, the Hall of Fame big man recounted the situation, voicing he chose to sabotage his meeting with Nike by wearing a unique piece of attire.
“Nike, they had like four or five people and it was always my dream to have a signature shoe,’ O’Neal recounted. “So when I went to Reebok, they was going to give me a signature shoe. Because I already had my Shaq emblem. I already had all the commercials. I had everything done in my head on how I wanted to go. So when I went to Reebok, they said they were going to do it.”
“But we promised Nike that we would listen to them. So I wore my Reebok jacket to the Nike meeting. So I came back, and I signed with Reebok.”
O’Neal already had the Reebok deal in his back pocket and simply wanted to send a visual jab toward Nike for their lack of faith in him. It’s a tremendous level of pettiness, but one that O’Neal crafted in his own way.
Pulled himself out of his Reebok deal
O’Neal‘s decision to roll with Reebok earned him his first signature shoe.
However, the endorsement deal didn’t last long as he elected to decline on a five-year, $40 million extension with the company. It came about after a memorable interaction with a fan upset at the high price of the shoes.
I had $2,000 in my pocket. I said, ‘Lady I don’t make the prices. Here you go, and she smacked the money out of my hand, [and said], ‘Why don’t you motherf**ers make a shoe that’s affordable?’ O’Neal recently recalled during an interview on the “Full Send” podcast via The New York Post.
The unique experience led O’Neal to create the Shaq brand with the shoes selling at a much more affordable price. Although the Hall of Fame big man is no longer an endorsement representative of the company, he was part of the mega-deal with Reebok earlier this year and has possessed shares since 2015.