Shaquille O'Neal isn't only one of the most dominant players of all time, but also a terrific businessman. Besides being a fun guy and liking expensive and luxurious stuff, O'Neal has found a way to keep things balanced, having nice things and helping people out while still making a lot of money every year.
It wasn't an easy journey for the 4x NBA champion, but he always had an idea of what he wanted to do with his image and what he represented on the court, ultimately launching his 'Dunkman' brand, even after he was told it wouldn't work in the NBA. After a college teacher gave him an 'F' in a marketing project, Shaq decided to prove him wrong and came up with a huge brand that is making billions now. Back in 2020, Shaq explained how the Dunkman brand was born and the tough process behind that.
“So when I was in college, I failed marketing class because I used to sit around and dream. I said, shit, Mike got some Jumpman, let me go and create the Dunkman.
So I came up with Shaq shirts, Shaq underwear, Shaq towel, Shaq everything. And the guy embarrassed me in class. He said, ‘I see you put a lot into this Mr. O’Neal, but this is not good enough.’ And I said, ‘Why?’ He said, ‘If you look at the climate of the NBA, big guys don’t sell.’
And he made a good point. At that time, it was only Magic and Bird in commercials. So I went back and I was like, damn, I ain’t ever get my own shirt, I ain’t ever gonna get nothing. I’m going to be like all these other big guys.
And as I’m sitting in my room, chillin’, this dumb ass dog kept coming on TV, Spuds MacKenzie.
He had everything. So then I was like, ‘That’s the stupidest commercial.’ Then I go to the store, he got cups, and he got a hat.
So I go back and I’m saying, ‘Why do they like this dog?’ And they liked the dog because everything he did was funny.
So I said, okay, if I ever get commercials, I’m going to be the funny guy. I got to make people laugh. Because my secret is not to say the product, but make you remember the product.
Like this right here [pointing to drink bottle], it’ll be us fighting over the drinks and then all of us would fall out the window. That should go viral.
So I try to create all my commercials and try not to get involved or invest in a product I don’t believe in.”
Shaq learned a lot from that experience, and even when he was signed to a major company like Reebok, the player decided to cut ties with them and create his own brand, 'Dunkman'. It all happened when a mom asked him why his shoes were too expensive, which made Shaq took a different turn and create affordable shoes.
In the end, he had the last laugh. There's a Dunkman statue on the LSU campus. Shaq is making a lot of money with his brand, and most importantly, he's helping mothers and kids have shoes that won't cost even $50.