SELECT Vintage: Reebok Shaq Attaq II
Although the basic concept had been introduced decades earlier, the signature basketball shoe as we know it really didn’t come into its own until the NBA’s glorious 1980s-90s era. Once Nike upped the ante with their mega-successful Air Jordan line, it didn’t take long before almost all of the league’s top stars had endorsement deals and their own shoe line with one brand or another. And while in most cases, players had a number of different personalized models over the years, there’s usually one or two for each guy that overshadow all the rest when we think back on what they wore during their careers.
For Shaquille O’Neal, there were a definite two that dominate most of our memories of his early days with Reebok – 1993’s Pump-equipped Shaq Attaq and the unforgettably ostentatious Shaqnosis from ’96. Both of those models left behind an endearing legacy that made their eventual return a no-brainer for Reebok. They finally received the long-awaited retro treatment earlier this year and re-introduced the Reebok Shaq line to the masses, but many younger sneaker enthusiasts may not realize that Shaq had a number of other Reebok models in between the Shaq Attaq and the Shaqnosis.
The original Shaq Attaq released in the middle of O’Neal’s rookie year, making a big splash in the market thanks to a combination of the young phenom’s enormous popularity and the shoe’s use of Reebok’s Pump technology. The Vector Brand pulled out all the stops in their marketing and promotional campaigns and eventually reaped the benefits at retail as the shoe went on to be a big success. Unlike today, they waited several months before releasing a second colorway, dropping the Black/Blue edition just before the start of Back to School season and a few months prior to the kickoff of the next NBA season.
Shaquille’s second year as a pro finally brought about his second signature sneaker, the generally anticlimactic Shaq Attaq II. Needless to say, the follow-up to the first Shaq shoe had a tough act to follow, but rather than trying to top it, Reebok unexpectedly went the opposite route and created something of a takedown model for the Shaq Attaq II, significantly scaling back the tech aspects and dropping the pricepoint from $125 to $100. The model only released in two colorways – White/Black/Blue and Black/Blue – and it turned out to be the shortest lived of all Shaq’s on-court Reebok sigs as he wore it for only the first half of the 93-94 season before switching over to the Shaq Attaq III after its introduction at the All-Star Game.
Because of its brief lifespan on the hardwood and at retail, the Shaq Attaq II may just be the most obscure and forgotten offering from the line, but it actually had some interesting things going for it. Let’s start with the fact that it was the only mid-cut Reebok shoe that Shaq ever played in, a pretty unorthodox choice at the time for a player of his massive stature.
It also featured a unique down-sloping angle on the ankle cut that hadn’t really been seen much in basketball shoe design until it was popularized by the Air Jordan XIV a few years later. At the peak end of that ankle height was a split heel design similar to the Asics Gel Lyte III tongue, but flipped around to the back of the shoe.
Aside from the ankle cut and split-heel construction, the rest of the shoe was fairly non-descript when it came to technical innovations with the only other standout features being the Graphlite shank plate embedded in the midsole and the SHAQ-branded TPU bar that wraps the heel. Despite the somewhat minimalized
performance approach, there were some cool aesthetic inclusions to punch things up a bit. The tongues sport a jumbo embroidered Shaq dunk silhouette logo, and in what may be the shoe’s most desirable characteristic, his number 32 is stitched into the heels done up in the same font as the Orlando Magic uniforms.
So while it may not be the most desirable of its Reebok signature brethren, the Shaq Attaq II certainly has a few notable points of interest and deserves to at least be recognized for a day before it falls back into obscurity. It seems safe to assume that these won’t be making a retro comeback anytime soon, so have a look here
and bring yourself up to speed with a lesser known chapter of the Reebok Shaq saga. For more on the forgotten footwear relics of yesteryear, stay tuned for more in the SELECT Vintage series coming soon.