- Champion: check
- All-time great: check
- Philanthropist: … check
- Successful shoe line: fail
Hakeem Olajuwon’s greatness cannot be questioned on and off the court. A perineal force from the mid-80’s through the ’90’s, Hakeem lead the Houston Rockets to back-to-back championships in 1994 & 1995. Throughout his ‘glory years’ Olajuwon (also known as The Dream) wore second (and third) tier shoe brands like Etonic and LA Gear (in LA Gear’s defense, they did sponsor other quality athletes like Karl Malone, Joe Montana and Wayne Gretzky at the time). At the peak of his popularity The Dream signed an endorsement deal with Spalding and quickly released a shoe bearing his nickname with one specific purpose, affordability.
The Dream released in 1995 for 34.99$ to combat the high prices of Nike, Adidas and Reebok. Hakeem took a public stance against the violence surrounding coveted shoes like Air Jordans in which teens were robbing and killing each other over. The shoes looked enough like Shaq’s Reeboks and other name brands but consumers instantly knew they were Spaldings and ran from them as fast as they could. No one wanted to be seen wearing them, regardless of Spalding’s earnest intent. Honestly, every shoe with The Dream’s name on them had problems selling. Take a #fbf look at some of Hakeem’s other offers from the ’90’s below and tell us if you’d wear any of them.
This classic marketing brochure from Etonic came complete with Hakeem lyrics! On a more genuine note, it also shows how Hakeem was always trying to help with proceeds directed towards The Lupus Foundation.
IMO, the LA Gear joints were the worst looking of the bunch but they came in plenty of colors. Hakeem’s name was the only thing working for these LA Gears.