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Reebok Basketball’s Future Plans & My Thoughts

Reebok is shutting down its basketball division… Reebok is just getting started. What the heck is going on? That’s what a lot of us (by us I mean older guys) are wondering…

Luckily, Nick Engvall from Complex had an opportunity to speak with Reebok’s Head of Reebok Classics and Basketball, Todd Krinsky, to clear the air a bit.

The interview is interesting – you should click HERE to read it.

Now, if you want to read my thoughts I strongly urge you to read the interview first them come back otherwise you’ll have a biased view on things. This will be a long one… you’ve been warned.

The thing that I’m happy about is that Reebok Basketball is not ‘dead’. At least it isn’t as of now. It sure could be but at this very moment there is still hope.

Above I mentioned us older guys. Reason being is that people right around my age, some a little older and some a bit younger, were actually around during the Reebok glory days. I never saw Dominique play but I sure as hell watched the tapes. However, I did see the others… Shawn Kemp, Steve Francis and – my favorite player – Allen Iverson play… boy did I watch them play. Reebok had some of the nastiest (in a good way) players signed during the 80’s and 90’s. It was Reebok who went toe to toe with Nike and they did a damn good job of it too. If you think back… really think back… the best basketball sneakers from the 80’s and 90’s are predominantly comprised of Nike’s (Jordan Brand didn’t exist at the time so they were Nike’s) and Reebok’s… adidas & Fila were the brands placed in the ‘affordable’ bracket back then.

Somewhere down the road Reebok lost touch with the market. This is where I think there is hope but also a lot of room for error if they continue to be blinded by what is ‘the sneaker culture’.

We’re definitely going to still make performance product, but it will probably have a little more heritage play to it. It will probably have more of a lifestyle-driven message to it. When you look back at when Reebok Basketball had a larger share and we were really moving in basketball, it was always about the stories, concepts and personalities. That’s what the heritage of the brand was, whether it was Dee Brown pumping up, Dominique in the Twilight, or the whole Iverson franchise. We brought on Jay-Z for S. Carter Basketball. The Blacktop back in the day with Sinbad, and all that stuff. All that stuff that’s really relevant to the sneaker culture was all about doing something different.

Yes, back then we had larger than life characters in the NBA. They sold sneakers. Bottom line… they sold the product they wore. That isn’t the case anymore though… kids aren’t fooled by charisma anymore… its all about flash and money now. Its all about the hype. Bringing the heritage back into the brand and its future products is key… this is where Jordan Brand screwed up after the XX3. They lost touch with their consumers and the only way they’ve been able to stay afloat is by releasing multiple Retro models per month that sell out in seconds while the performance line(s) sit. However, trying to keep things “relevant to the sneaker culture” is where you may fail… the culture you spoke of no longer exists.

Our culture is heavily divided now. When we were growing up we wanted what the players had because we wanted to be like the players. Why did we want to be like the players? Because we were players. We played ball. The sneaker culture that exists now though… most of them don’t play basketball. The current generation of the sneaker culture sees hip hop artists, singers, dancers & pop icons wearing certain shoes/ apparel and THEN they want it. Today there are two sides… there are athletes and then there are sneakerheads. Who are you trying to sell your product to is what needs to be figured out… sneakerheads don’t like creases, scuff or paint chipping – things that all come with hooping regularly – and athletes… we want something that allows us to play our game and do so comfortably.

He’s everything the sneaker game wants. He’s a good player. He’s got the ball in his hands. He’s a good-looking guy. He’s cool.

Again, are you trying to cater towards the sneaker game or towards athletes who desperately need a product that performs well?

Ask a sneakerhead what they want out of a shoe, this is what they’ll tell you; it’s gotta look good and show no signs of wear. That’s pretty much the gist of it…

Ask an athlete what they want out of a shoe; it’s gotta look good, feel good, fit properly, have adequate cushion, nice materials, ample traction and most importantly… it MUST be durable and affordable.

I think the average athlete could care less about what the sneaker game wants… we just need good hoop shoes.

This is where the whole heritage thing can really come in handy. You already have a platform to work with… you just have to get these new athletes to understand why the past is so important. Why was Dominique special… Francis… Iverson? What did these guys bring to the table? When you had great players available you exploited Nike perfectly with awesome advertising. Pump it up, Air it out. Genius. You know how much money you’d make if you release the original commercials alongside the Answer I Retro? You’d have every ball player on the planet trying to grab a pair… then they’d be outside trying to do said crossover just as we did growing up. Not because of how handsome and cool he is… but because he kicked some serious ass on the court.

We don’t feel like the world needs another basketball brand doing things the exact same way.

I agree but at the same time… you guys did get it right the first time. It was what came after that was the problem. In order to bring Reebok basketball back you must divide then conquer. Focus on your target, the athlete. Know what we want. We aren’t apposed to leathers, suedes and nubucks… we’re not apposed to synthetics either. Light isn’t always right. Hexalite and real DMX are good cushion sources… DMX foam and ZigTech are not. The Pump can be modified and slimmed down to give players a custom fit while plush materials give an elegant look for off-court use if warranted. Herringbone works, unless used in conjunction with ZigTech. You’re prices are already affordable so that is fine… Reebok is literally the only company that brings back older models (Retros) while still using premium materials and keeps them affordable. Most importantly… we don’t bite.

If adidas could do it then so can Reebok. Stop thinking about the sneaker game and sneaker culture… start thinking about the athlete. The Retro Classics will take care of themselves within the ‘culture’, athletes just want a good hoop shoe. The main reason why product didn’t sell is because it just didn’t cut it compared to the competition.

Overall, I’m fairly optimistic about the brand’s future in the hoops world. Keep in mind… what you read here is strictly my opinion and feelings on the subject, as a fan… not a critic or reviewer. I understand that I said the Reebok Zig Encore Season 2 was a horrible hoop shoe… it really was… and I do joke around a bit when it comes to Reebok’s recent basketball adventures but at the end of the day… some of my most beloved pairs of shoes are from Reebok.

The bottom line is this… cultures change and evolve. This ‘sneaker culture’ will turn on you when it sees fit. What wont change is the fact that there will always be players that need good performance footwear.

Ask players what they want to wear… don’t ask players to wear a bad idea.

  1. I really don’t want Reebok to go cause they have one of the best retros even though I did not grow in the 90’s! How’s your hand going bro? Really exited about those M9 reviews! I know your going to hate me with this but should I buy KD5 or M9? I’m a F/C and I really need to make a choice cause kicks are being sold here quickly in Asia!

    1. I duno if he ll reply so I ll give u my opinion.
      First of if you have wide feet its M9, no question.
      Segundo as a F/C I would choose, even if NW did not make his performance review on those yet, the M9 cause the M8 were dope and I think the M9 ll just improve them and these shoes work for ur position, well any positions but yours especially.

      1. I definitely agree. The M8 was definitely a well rounded, well supported shoe. Although the lockdown and fit on the KD5’s are on point, I feel like the M9 would be the better choice for you. Basically they improved everything from the M9. It’s lighter, more breathable, fits nicer, and it’s definitely more of a big guy’s shoe. Also, the air zoom bag in the heel in the M9 is HUGE, and if you’re a fan of zoom air you’ll love that.

    2. get the M9’s and call it a day. i have been ballin in them for 2 weeks and there comfortable and just feel good and they feel “cool” meaning they dont get your fetts hot. i thought the traction would feel like the CP3 3rd model because the routsole rubber density / pliability, herringbone spacing and groove depth are the same and well the shoe has the same traction which for me is a 8.5 out of 10. the M8 traction like Ndub said was impressive but its because the pebbled bottom and sadly that pebbled bottom burns of quicker than just herring bone. get a six pack and bust the M9

  2. I read the interview then your opinion and i have to agree. I was born in 93 so i missed a lot but i too watched tapes, was awed, and wanted the older model shoes. The advertising and the players in my opinion sold the shoes and when i played basketball i was wondering what those shoes felt like. Now a days I’m kinda bored with the modern basketball shoe look. Its often cold, lifeless, and common. If someone can bring back old school looks, fine material, and a good basketball shoe i’m going to buy no matter what the brand. For now I’m just drooling at retro 11’s and its sad that i cant get my hands on them because hundreds of other kids beat me to it and all they do is leave them in the box and bust them out every once in a while to look at em. I want to play in a retro 11 and i want to wear the shit out of it ad take care of it. Please Reebok, if you can bring old school style back into basketball shoes today then your probably going to make a killing.

    Thanks Chris for the article and your thoughts.

    1. You are exactly right about the 11s. Sadly I have a pair of bred 11s still in the box deadstock and factory laced that I am scared to wear since I paid well over retail for. The thing is I both collect and play. I find its just better to play in newer performace kicks (Kobes, Team Jordans, KD ect. Retros just seem better for collecting and wearing casual. In the end they are your shoes and do what you like with them.

  3. “When we were growing up we wanted what the players had because we wanted to be like the players. Why did we want to be like the players? Because we were players. We played ball.”

    “The bottom line is this… cultures change and evolve. This ‘sneaker culture’ will turn on you when it sees fit. What wont change is the fact that there will always be players that need good performance footwear.

    Ask players what they want to wear… don’t ask players to wear a bad idea.”

    Amen brother! I do hope they bounce back to their glory days, and also for them to drop those retro’s here in the PI, I sure want to play again in those Kamikaze II’s.

  4. This is an excellent read and of course, I agree. Some are so focused on just the look of a BASKETBALL shoe but will never play either indoor or outdoor. Yet, they hold influence over what a basketball shoe should be like. Sad thing is, companies like Reebok are straying from what made them so successful in the past. I was born in 87 but never got seriously interested in sports until I was maybe 12. Still, I do remember what things used to be like.

  5. I was born in 86 so i lived the iverson reebok days. I think that is a great idea bringing back the iverson crossover commericals. I remember iversons were what everyone wore and way more of those on feet than Jordans. Jordans were just too expensive back then. It is great that reebok is making retros now but I really wish they don’t try to do things like use DMX foam. I was really hoping my Answer 4 would be exactly like the pair I had in middle school.

  6. I fall into that grouping of “older guys” and can personally attest to the glory days of Reebok in the 90s-early 2000s. The Question, Answer 1,3,4, and 5 were fresh. The spin move and crossover commercial for the Answer 1 were EPIC! They even had the commercial for the Answer 5 with JadaKiss rapping. They were marketing to the right audience. When Steve Francis hit the league, the ATR series was dominating the market for outdoor players. Reebok was the brand that for players that had the mindset, “I ain’t gotta be pretty…I get buckets.” I don’t know what happened… they just fell off. After the Answer 5 the series lost it’s appeal. Once Stevie Franchise lost his mojo, Reebok’s left right along with it… so sad

  7. I agree with what you’re saying. I was born in ’86 (coldest year ever!) and I came up with all the ads and commercials. I still have old Eastbay books that I keep in a shoebox from random months throughout the 90s. I have collected Jordans knowing that the quality wasn’t always “play-worthy” but the Reeboks are the best of both worlds. Premium materials and mainly unchanged from the OGs (except in the case of DMX foam). All the 90s shoes came from inspiration. Hell most of the 2000-2006 shoes did too. Now mostly everything that drops is a reiteration of the previous year’s model (hyperfuse/hyperdunk) or just garbage (all John Wall shoes).

    The issue I face is I want to get the Iversons (had the originals straight out of Finishline back in the day), but I can’t get them at retail b/c hypebeasts grab them all. Just to keep them in a box in their closet smh

    I’m a sneakerhead and I can say that sneakerheads are fucking the game up.

  8. It’s so true! Reebok should start thinking about us, athelte! I don’t understand why they are not making any performance shoes with DMX cushion system (not the DMX foam) any more. I still remember ten years ago when I had DMX cushion first time, totally amazing stuff. I bought a pair for my father too and since that he does like to wear any other shoes. The last pair of reebok I bought was the answer one retro, the 10th anuversery edition and I was disappointed cuz it’s DMX foam cushion. And that’s the end of my personal reebok period. I buy shoes but not a sneakerhead cuz I need good performance shoes. Totally agree with NW! If they put DMX system back into the basketball product line, they will be able to get them back into the game. I want to love you reebok so please make me do so!!

  9. seems like they are trying to do things backwards. the reason why these sneakers end up being so iconic is becuase they were the best made for the best. so as a consumer you want to play in the best sneakers. lol i was lucky enough to get 2 signature models as a kid. first was the penny 2. the second was the reebok answer 1 (blue patent). i loved them ssoooo much that i promised myself i wouldnt mess them up but then the very next day i was hooping in them. (i wanted jordans but my parents wouldnt get them for me becuase of the price). anyway….sneakers wont last forever so you might as well get the most outa them.

  10. this will be fun. I was born in 74 (the illest era, why – we got to see the best hip hop live and in its prime, De La, Tribe, EPMD, PE etc) and watched Iverson ball at Geeorgetown rockin Jordan 11’s and then make the move to Reebok. The shaq line i never understood, the blacktop line was OK (back then i worked at big 5 and we always sold those) but the Iverson line and there cross trainer line was where it was at and like others above DMX was and can me one of the best cushion set ups and whomever dreamed up dmx foam should be shot. in 2006 & 07 they where still using dmx but only in the healand then I stopped looking for there shoes because the seamed t o be going off in a strange direction. THEN they came up with HEX RIDE and that shoe was omfortable as all hell in their running / crosstrainer line and i thought they were gonna make DMX ride there top priority in the ballin line but NOPe- they made a few and they were stiff as hell and youcouldn’t feel the tech at all. They messed up big time in mind. After that this Zig garbage emerged and down goes Frazier.It’s easy, everyone loves the first 2 Iverson kicks and they will / need to leverage that and take off from there and build from there. And by the way Pick your shoes had those Reebok questions in the Nugget or warrior CW for years for Years with the free mouse pad and everybody had there sleeping bag rolled out on that one and theose joints are dope.

  11. You are on right point as always. Here is some of my thoughts, not that they matter at all.

    As a business, the bigger market at the moment is inarguably those sneakerheads. The athletes crowd has failed so many good brands in the past 10 to 15 years.

    2012, there are movement from Reebok to bring back those classic models. They had Wilkins, Iverson at those launch events. At the same time, they had those hip hop singers and dancers as well. It is obvious that Kanye can sell as well as Jordan did back in the days if not better.

    Reebok cannot just focusing on the classics. People wants to see six packs, rather than kegs. Redefining the classics and redefining the brand is the key. It is certainly easy said than done.

    I agree that there is still hope. But I’m not optimistic saying that. The interview is actually more worrying than it already is.

  12. Forget about all these lame azz ballers. Adult actors is who are looked up to today. I have a sneaker that uses Peter North’s jizz as the cushioning material in the heel. This particular jizz works well as does my own. Pick up my new joints: the Lex Steele Jizzinators I at your local mall or adult viewing booth establishment.

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