Athletic footwear’s competitive market is undoubtedly fierce with the top brands inking multimillion deals with renowned sports celebrities. Though Nike, Puma, and Adidas have made blockbuster shoe contracts, Reebok has also worked together with superstar athletes and sports legends since its foundation in 1958. Today, they taper the gap from their bigger rivals, continually teaming up with many global sports icons. So, let’s take a look at the biggest and most famous names that partnered up with Reebok.
1. Allen Iverson
Regarded as one of the best ball handlers in NBA history, an 11-time All-Star, and a four-time scoring champ, it’s only fitting that Reebok matched Allen Iverson’s legacy with a lifetime deal that pays him $800,000 a year. In addition, a lucrative trust fund also awaits “The Answer,” which he can access in 2030 on his 55th birthday.
Bubba Chuck’s first shoe under the athletic shoe company was Reebok Question released in 1996. Designed by Scott Hewett, it was meant to resemble elements of the Jordan 11 that Iverson wore during his collegiate playing years. Apart from that, Iverson also has a shoe line called “Reebok Answer.”
2. Conor McGregor
Conor McGregor, the most talked about name in UFC history and mixed martial arts, has also entered a deal with Reebok in 2018, giving him $5 million dollars per year. The two-division champion’s partnership with the company continues to strengthen in recent years with the expansion of Gregor’s shoe and sportswear line. Some of the shoes that Reebok has partnered with the “Notorious” include Sole Fury (2018) and ZIG Kinetica (2020).
3. Shawn Kemp
One of Reebok’s first partnerships was with Shawn Kemp, one of Seattle Supersonics’ best players in the 1990s. Dubbed as the “Reign Man”, his first signature shoe under the sports brands was Reebok Kamikaze released in 1995. Its design matched Kemp’s aggressive playing style on the court, featuring conspicuous zig-zagging lines and colorways of his team.
Like the forward’s prominent force, the sneakers also dominated in sales. As such, Kamikaze 2 followed the year. Kemp donned the signature shoes in the 1996 NBA Finals against the Jordan-led Chicago Bulls. In 2022, Reebok renamed the historic sneakers “Hurrikaze” for a much-needed sensitive update.
4. Shaquille O’Neal
Another early brand ambassador of Reebok was one of basketball’s most dominant players, Shaquille O’Neal, who helped his teams win four NBA Championships and an Olympic Gold. Other notable achievements under his name include three NBA Finals MVP awards, three All-Star Game MVP awards, 15 All-Star Game selections, and two scoring titles.
His brilliance easily paved the way for him to sign a $15-million dollar deal with Reebok. His most famous signature sneaker is “Shaq Attaq 1” released in 1992, which had Reebok’s Pump innovation. Later on, Reebok also released “Shaqnosis” under the Shaq line.
In 1998, Shaq walked away from Reebok and turned down a five-year $40 million deal after deeming that the shoes weren’t affordable for his support. It happened after an incident where a lady confronted him about Reebok selling too expensive shoes. Today, Shaq is Authentic Brands Group’s second-largest individual shareholder. It’s the company that owns JCPenney, Forever 21, and Reebok.
5. Dominique Wilkins
In 1989, Nike began to make good progress in marketing its products to fashion-oriented shoe enthusiasts, where Reebok had previously excelled. To combat such, they prioritized technology over fashion and rebranded as a performance-oriented company.
Among their first innovations was Reebok Pump sneakers, which were inflatable athletic shoes released in 1989. By then, the company had also decided to use professional athletes to be ambassadors of the brand which Nike accomplished with immense success.
With that, they signed Dominique Wilkins, one of Atlanta Hawks’ best players, for a four-year endorsement contract to promote Reebok Pump, as well as the “Jam” line of Reebok basketball shoes.
6. Dee Brown
Though it was Dominique Wilkin who first wore Reebok Pump in 1989. It was in 1991 when the shoe gained its prominence. It happened in the NBA All-Star Slam Dunk after Boston Celtics rookie Dee Brown pumped a pair of Pumps on national television, wore it, and won the contest via a sensational no-look dunk.
From there, Reebok PUMP became iconic in NBA circles and etched the signature shoe in the history books. Not to mention that Dee Brown also made a name for himself being only the second rookie to win the dunk contest.
Many deemed that Dee Brown inked a deal after the event. However, Brown was already Reebok’s official brand endorser even before the contest, having signed with the company after getting into the Boston Celtics. Though Nike offered him a deal as well, he opted to stay local and chose the Boston-based company.
Brown said that wearing Reebok Pump wasn’t a marketing stink and he wasn’t even actually drawn to the sneaker. Yet, Brown didn’t love taping his ankles, and the fact that he can tighten his shoes snugly was the reason behind him wearing the Pump.
7. JJ Watt
What to love about Reebok is the diversity of its partnerships. From the NBA to the UFC, the Boston-based sports brand has also transcended into the NFL, getting the Watt brothers as their brand ambassadors. Among the three siblings, JJ Watt has been more visible and active, having multiple sneaker lines and attire under the company. Moreover, JJ has been very vocal in avowing his love for AI’s signature shoes. The American football defensive end is also renowned for his contributions to helping the community, utilizing proceeds from his endorsement in giving back to different charities and institutions.
8. Yao Ming
Yao Ming is highly considered to be one of the best Asian players to step onto the NBA court. The Houston Rocket star’s brilliance landed him a contract first with Nike, but he was later signed by Reebok after the former decided to part ways with the “Ming Dynasty.” In the 2006-2007 season, he donned the Reebok Pump Showstopper and wore the RBK Voyager Mid the following season. Reebok also teamed up with Yao Ming for a marketing campaign in his home country.
Reebok has cemented its status as a reputable brand, consistently providing top-notch quality sports footwear in the market. Yet, these listed professional athletes, from rookies, and veterans to legends, who have been part of Reebok’s interesting history have also taken their part in leveraging the brand. As such, we can only expect Reebok to add more key pillars to its already incredible roster of brand ambassadors moving forward.