words & images_Nick DePaula
Whether it's been Reebok, the short-lived Dunk.net, Starter or now Li-Ning, there's been at least two constants throughout Shaquille O'Neal's sneaker history -- the Dunkman logo and his size 22 being the biggest in the league. This year, Shaq has been manning the paint for the Cavaliers in this White/ Wine/ Gold sneaker by Li-Ning.
Featuring a rich full-grain leather upper, molded collar and neoprene tongue sleeve, the shoe includes several personal touches and hints towards Shaq. There's his jersey number #33, the Dunkman logo along the collar and seen through the outsole, and also his name at the bottom of the eyestay and along the heel of the outsole. Taking things a step further, gold accents along the lateral forefoot call out the year 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2006, the years in which he won an NBA Championship.
Throughout much of Li-Ning's brand imagery around Shaq, his power and force has been compared to a Shark, which also makes up much of the inspiration behind the shoe. You'll notice a tooth-like traction pattern along the outsole, as well as a gill-inspired ventilation system dubbed VentiGill that allows for some extra airflow through the midfoot.
For now, Shaq's Li-Ning shoes are available only in China, but enjoy a closer look at the shoe he'll be wearing throughout the playoffs as hopes to "win a ring for the King."