While Nike still rules supreme in the athletic shoes department, this doesn’t mean that Adidas is far behind. After all, Adidas is serious about running for number one, and that’s one of the reason it bought Reebok in 2005 for a staggering price of $3.78 billion.
The Rise of Reebok in the Eighties
It’s hard to think about Reebok as a mere supporting player in the war between Nike and Adidas today, especially if you lived through the 1980s. That’s because in many ways the Eighties belonged to Reebok. Reebok took it to Nike in such a way that Nike founder Philip Knight really hated Paul Fireman, who bought the North American rights to Reebok. Reebok was just another British manufacturer of sneakers (or trainers as the Brits called them) at the time. Fireman then proceeded to buy out the parent company of Reebok in 1984, and then he really took it to Nike. In 1981, Reebok sales were a little over $1.5 million. By 1987, Reebok shot to an astounding $1.4 billion in revenue—and they actually passed Nike to reach the summit of the US athletic shoes industry.
So how did Reebok do it? It was simple. Admittedly, Reebok introduced quite a few shoes during the decade that were popular. Even by the near end of the decade in 1989, they were producing instant hits like the Pump. These basketball shoes were inflated so that they would really form-fit on your ankles. And that’s what NBA rookie Dee Brown was wearing when he electrified the world with his Dunks during the NBA All-Star Weekend Dunking Championships.