Rumors can be vicious and start to whirlwind out of control right from the jump these days thanks to social media connecting us all. Today, thanks to John Wall's switch to adidas, rumors started circulating that Reebok — the brand that brought us classic basketball sneakers like the Pump Twilight Zone worn by the "Human Highlight Film" Dominique Wilkins, the Pump Omni Lite worn by Dee Brown and Allen Iverson's entire signature line — was finished with performance basketball as a category. Rather than take the words of those limited to 140 characters, we went direct to the source and talked to Reebok's Head of Reebok Classics and Basketball, Todd Krinsky. Check out what he had to say about the future of Reebok Basketball.
It seems there is a lot of talk that Reebok is done with performance basketball?
I think that's a logical assumption with John moving over [to adidas]. The reality is, we as a brand have to decided that we want to make a strategic shift in how we approach basketball and how we compete in the basketball space. We feel, quite frankly, a lot of brands are approaching it in the same way. We don't feel like the world needs another basketball brand doing things the exact same way. We've really taken a hard look at who we are as a brand, our heritage, with Iverson, Pump, Blacktop and all these great things that we've done over the years. We've decided we're going to take a little bit different of an approach. This kind of conversation and strategy started about 6-9 months ago.
When you get to John specifically, we felt like with the direction we're going to move, he probably is better suited on the adidas side. Since we're one group and owned by the same overall group, we started to have conversations about that with adidas. We really feel like he's going to be in a better situation, a great situation with adidas. We feel on our side, we're really going to be starting with a new strategy. We're going to be acquiring new players. We're going to be active this year with new players. We're going to be active over the next few years with new players. It's really more of a strategy shift. The average person would read this would make the assumption that we're getting out but actually, that's not the case at all.
Over the next few months, people will be hearing about a new strategy from us. After this season,
We don't feel like the world needs another basketball brand doing things the exact same way.
you'll be hearing about some new players we're going to acquire, we're already in some talks right now. We are definitely in the game. We're in basketball. We're just going to be approaching the business a little bit differently.
Do you think with the current roster of players will there be more emphasis on Reebok Classics?
I think that when I allude to the fact that we're going to do things a little different, certainly our heritage, retro models and the lifestyle part of our business will have a bigger influence on what we do. 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. In the past few years, we've gotten a little complacent. We've kind of done what other brands are doing in the basketball space. That doesn't help the consumer or the kid, they don't need another brand doing the same thing. That's not who we are anyways. We had to call a timeout. We had to say to ourselves, 'Listen, let's get back to who we are.' That also gives us a chance to retool our roster and play off of this proposition a little more.
When we talk to people, whether it's guys like you that are really in the culture, or younger kids in the store, they say 'we remember this and that, we hoping Reebok stays around.' But, we've got to do it with our own tone. That's kind of what we're looking to do. There will be a little more lifestyle to it. There will be some retro influence to it. Pump is going to be a part of it and there are some new things we're working on now. We're actually re-energized and re-tooled so it's actually the opposite of what some people are saying. We're not getting out of it at all. We're just going to take a Reebok-smart approach to it.
Do you think with John Wall's injuries, did it affect Reebok telling the full story with the product?
I think most players — there are a couple of exceptions — hit their stride in year three. We've been in the game a long time and we've seen that. This is not about the fact that we felt that he couldn't help us, or didn't pay off like what he thought he would be. 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. It wasn't any of that, it's just that right now with us re-tooling, we felt like adidas could better utilize him right now. We're going to move in a different direction. It's not anything at all about an indictment on John or his play. He's back now. He's going to be on the court in the next few weeks. He's going to get back pretty quick into playing at a competitive level and he's going to have a great career. This really, honestly, has nothing to do with that. All of us here have a great relationship with him. He's a great guy. I think the sky is the limit for him, we're just going to do it a different way from our perspective.