Every sneaker brand big or small has certain models that are just more important than the rest. Whether it’s a landmark in innovation, the shoe that made the company what it is today, or just an unforgettable design, some just simply matter more. The Shaq Attaq is certainly one of these paramount sneakers for Reebok. Credited as the brand’s first official signature shoe, the Shaquille O’Neal’s first model helped propel the brand to heavyweight status in the basketball sneaker market throughout the 1990s, paving the way for their bold and unapologetic design language you’d later see evolve into models like Shawn Kemp’s Kamikaze line and Allen Iverson’s Question. Sure, the original Pump got the ball rolling, but it all really started in 1992 with the launch of the NBA’s newest, brightest, and definitely biggest star’s first signature shoe, the Shaq Attaq.
Ready to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Shaq Attaq in 2017, Reebok is ready to bring back the shoe in a wide range of colorways throughout the year, appropriately beginning with the iconic original “home” colorway worn by Shaq as he blew minds and tore down rims in his rookie season. So how did the Shaq Attaq come to be? We were lucky enough to sit down with the shoe’s original designer, Judy Close, to find out the whirlwind four-month process from signing Shaq after the ’92 NBA Draft to having a pair on his feet to begin the season in October.
ven when Shaq was just coming into the league, it was pretty much already known that he would be a once in a lifetime player in the NBA. What was it like taking on this task to design his first shoe?
Judy Close: It was a pretty cool opportunity. I had previously been in training and had worked on some other projects that had done really well. It was a time of big growth in the company. So it was really cool to be in a place where Reebok could have a big athlete. We always aspired to have our “Michael Jordan” of Reebok, and here came the opportunity to sign Shaq who had that big personality. To be able to design a shoe that was for someone rather than design a shoe and place it on someone, that was really very unique for us at the time.
Was it the first basketball shoe you designed?
JC: No, I had actually been in basketball for a few seasons. I had worked on some iterations of the BB4600, and I was the only designer for the Blacktop series, and was also responsible for the Omni Zone that Dee Brown wore. So I had some history in basketball.