O'Neal plays rich game of footsie with Reebok

June 12, 1992|By New York Times

LOS ANGELES -- No. 1 draft pick-to-be Shaquille O'Neal, whose age is still less than his shoe size, signed a multiyear sneaker, sunglass and apparel contract with Reebok yesterday, estimated at $3 million a year.

Reebok will make O'Neal, the 7-foot center from Louisiana State, the cornerstone of its basketball division, much in the same way Nike developed its relationship with Michael Jordan.

Reebok, according to sources, will pay O'Neal a guaranteed $3 million for his rookie season and will introduce a new sneaker for him, called InstaPump.

The length of the contract was not disclosed.

The 20-year-old O'Neal will wear the largest sneaker in the National Basketball Association since Bob Lanier's -- a size 21. Lanier wore a size 22, but in the 1970s had to wait months to have his specially made.

Reebok, however, molded O'Neal a pair of size 21s in the matter of a week, and the Louisiana State center tested them for close to a month before signing with the Boston-based company.

O'Neal selected Reebok over Nike, who had him up to its Beaverton, Ore., offices early this week.

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