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Shaq, Reebok Part Endorsement Ways

June 30, 1998

BOSTON (AP) _ When Shaquille O’Neal could no longer deliver shoe sales for Reebok, the company decided to end its relationship with the Los Angeles Lakers’ center.

Company spokesperson Dave Fogelson said Tuesday that the agreement not to renew O’Neal’s $15 million, five-year deal was mutual.

But Reebok reported a 12.2 percent drop in U.S. shoe sales during the first three months of this year, prompting it to trim 50 NBA players from its list of 70 endorsers. Rival companies Nike, Fila and Converse are also considering cuts.

Reebok will continue using star athletes to endorse its products, but Fogelson said ``the message is about the product, and what the product brings the athlete.″

O’Neal’s agent, Leonard Armato, said he expects to announce soon another footwear and apparel deal for O’Neal. Armato said that O’Neal will take this opportunity to develop a ``whole new direction.″

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