Reebok is reviving its relationship with Shaquille O’Neal, who had been one of the brand’s early ambassadors. The brand was purchased by Authentic Brands Group, which has partnered with the athlete for several years, earlier this year for 2.1 billion euros.
Timed to the start of the NBA season today, the Boston-based sports brand will unveil the next iteration of its Courting Greatness campaign celebrating the careers of both O’Neal and another Reebok partner, Allen Iverson. The digital campaign empowers consumers to create playable basketball spaces where they may not exist. Using camera and measurement features in mobile phones, the Courting Greatness digital tool enables users to map out the dimensions of a court, including a free throw line, 10-foot hoop, three-point line and more.
To promote the latest campaign, Reebok partnered with Philadelphia-born visual artist Gianni Lee and Los Angeles-based artist Rick Dove to construct custom, playable court installations in their home cities. Philadelphia and Los Angeles were selected for the installations, as they were home to Iverson and O’Neal, respectively, during their greatest achievements as professional basketball players. Both artists used upcycled materials to construct their custom courts.
“AI and Shaq are two of the most influential icons the game has ever seen both on and off the court, and there’s no better way to commemorate their individual journeys than to empower the next generation of players, helping provide tools to play anywhere,” said Nicole Adriance, director of brand activation and integrated media for Reebok. “We hope our collaborations with Gianni and Rick will also inspire ballers to showcase their own style and create their own court, because, as we know, basketball and style go hand in hand.”
Dove took the cues for his installation from the junkyard-style courts where O’Neal played as a child, using cement, plywood, rebar and metal fencing. The backboard features permanent cracks, designed to signify the many backboards the athlete broke during his time in Los Angeles. “Shaq had to create opportunities for himself and his family and showed unparalleled dominance in what he did,” Dove said. “Growing up in South Central, you are raised to understand that nothing is given to you. I had to make something out of nothing and create those moments and resources for myself the same way Shaq did.”
Lee was inspired by the street courts that he found in his hometown of West Philadelphia and used the same materials he would have as a child: wood and house paint. “I remember Iverson being a rising star at the time, and a lot of my friends had Iversons. He has in some way impacted the lives of everyone in the city directly or indirectly. Iverson made me want to go get it. No fuss, no excuses. Just go get it.”
Both Dove’s installation, at 7753 Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles, and Lee’s, at 2300 Frankford Avenue in Philadelphia, will be open today through Nov. 12.