Shaq defends decision to go with discount sneaker line amid 'blatant knockoffs' accusations
Sneakerheads have ripped the Shaq sneaker line for being 'blatant knockoffs' of expensive sneakers but the Hall of Famer says an eye-opening experience led him to push through with his discount shoe line. Photo from Shaq Shoes

WHY go with the high-end Yeezys and the Jordans when you can have the fancy looking Shaqs for less than half of the price?

Even in his post-NBA career, Shaquille O’Neal knows how to make his mark as he has managed to corner a segment in the footwear industry — the affordable shoes line.

The Shaq brand of sneakers is sold in discount family stores in the US. Priced at $15 to $30, the pairs target customers from low-income households.

Observers, however, noted that O’Neal’s merchandise seem to be blatant rip offs from the designs of popular Nike and Jordan lines, and could face accusations of copyright infringement and a possible lawsuit.

The comments, though, has not detered Shaq, who said it’s a decision on the design he made on purpose for the welfare of underprivileged kids.

“Kids don’t want to wear sneakers that cost $30 because they look like sneakers that cost $30,” the Hall of Famer told Sole Collector.

“I told my guys, ‘Don’t embarrass a kid when he goes to school. Make it look as close to the $100 shoe as possible.’ And that’s what’s keeping me alive downstairs.”

O’Neal recalled an eye-opening experience with a fan back in his playing days that pushed him to talk to Reebok, a company that he endorses, for the go-signal to market his own discount brand of sneakers.

“A lady cursed me out one day at the arena. I reached in my pocket to give her $1,000 and she smacked it out of my hand,” Shaq reminisced. “She said, ‘Why doesn’t anyone try to make affordable shoes?’”

“Me and Reebok had a brief discussion and they allowed me to do my own thing downstairs, as well as upstairs,” he added. “Since that, we’ve sold over 150 million pairs.” 

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