Allen Iverson and Sonic the Hedgehog share quite a bit in common. Both are superstars in their respective genres who relied on speed as their primary means of defeating their foes. They are super charismatic enigmas who have managed to dazzle and confuse their passionate fans, often at the same time and usually in red shoes. And despite the fact that the prime of their careers are now behind them, there are still those who cling to some hope, however faint it might be, that they will be able to bring something new to the table and create new magic.
In many ways, the Iverson/Hedgehog connection actually extends to the parent companies that they represent, Reebok and Sega. Ironically, A.I. actually hits the apex of his popularity right around the time blue blur reaches his, starring in an NBA 2K commercial that was exclusive to the Sega Dreamcast.
And for those with some knowledge of video game history, the Dreamcast would enjoy a brief stay at the top of the world in the early 2000s before the behemoth known as the Playstation 2 would come in and crush Sega’s last console gasp. If you want to extend this analogy to Sony = Nike, that’s perfectly fine.
Reebok Classics has never been more focused on their vision than in the past year. While several iconic shoes bearing the once-legendary vector logo have dropped over the years, there seems to be a ground swell of support this time around for some memorable silhouettes that have dropped this year and about to release later on, such as the Question and Kamikazes. Put it this way, when was the last time you saw people lining up for Reeboks of any kind that was not a super limited edition?
Several factors can be attributed to this newfound success. One is that the children who grew up in the 90s are finally adults (and I use that term loosely because I grew up in the 80s and the day I consider myself an adult is the day I start wearing penny loafers) and have disposable income. Like previous generations before them, they want to find those icons of childhood that they once had or could not afford back then. Secondly, there is an interest in kicks, in particular retro releases for nostalgic and business purposes, that was just not there in the early and mid-2000s when Reebok first decided to bring back some of their legacy sneakers. Lastly is Iverson himself, who is arguably the most popular player who started his career in the 90s and is to Reebok as Michael Jordan is to Nike.
To say that Reebok is not the company it once was is an understatement. Since the glory days of Iverson, Shaquille O’Neal, Shawn Kemp, Emmitt Smith and even Michael Chang, they have had their share of successes (the S. Carter and G-Unit lines did wonders for them) and mishaps (losing the bid for LeBron James, Steve Francis, Chad Johnson, Kim Kardashian, losing the brand recognition of being the official NBA and NFL outfitter). John Wall – the one guy who took the chance and signed with Reebok – can only do the Dougie so much before people start expecting him to actually win. The mind share is no longer what it once was.
While it would not be fair to call Reebok Classics a Sega Dreamcast at the moment, there is a certain sense that if Reebok is ever going to be relevant like it once was in the 90s in the sneaker world, they are going to have to make Classics a huge deal. Like Jay-Z and 50 Cent before them, bringing in Rick Ross was a huge step in that direction. Getting Allen Iverson back in the fold and actually promoting his retro drops was crucial. They are doing all of the right things and their back catalog is a veritable gold mine of kicks – that is just as rich and vibrant as anything Nike can offer – that are just waiting to be unearthed once again for old and new kids alike to enjoy.
This is not meant to advocate buying any Reebok or Classics products for the sake of buying them – people have the right to buy what they want – but there is something to be said about variety and keeping hope alive. Ideally, a sneakerhead’s calendar should not just be full of swooshes and Jumpmans, it should have vectors and three stripes and cats and the letters “A” and “NB” on them. But the 80s and the early 90s were a great time because you didn’t necessarily need to have Nikes (it helped, but it wasn’t the end all be all like it is today) to be the king of your block.
Like Reebok, Sega was once an innovator in its field, releasing one monumental title after another that pushed the boundaries of what was possible. And like Reebok, Sega provided much-needed competition to its biggest rival (at the time, Nintendo) that took them to heights that never would have happened if no one was around to scare them. It can only benefit sneakerheads all around if that kind of rivalry existed once more and Classics might be the first step to making that happen. Nike Sportswear has the art of the retro drop down to a science; it’s time that Reebok took that to the next level.
Are you looking forward to any upcoming Reebok Classics drop or do you think Nike is all you need? Sound off in the comments below…