Reebok Isn’t a ‘Hobby’ for Shaquille O’Neal

In mid-March, Reebok staged its annual brand summit for about 500 business partners at the Artists for Humanity EpiCenter, an events space in Boston, where Todd Krinsky, the company’s chief executive, was harboring a secret.

Mr. Krinsky told his audience that Shaquille O’Neal, the new president of Reebok’s soon-to-be-resuscitated basketball division, had been hoping to attend. But in lieu of being there in person, Mr. O’Neal had sent along a prerecorded video message.

And there, on a big screen, appeared the unmistakable presence of Mr. O’Neal, all 7 feet 1 inch of him, as he lounged in bed at home in Atlanta. He said he felt awful about missing the event and offered his apologies.

But as soon as the video ended, Mr. O’Neal appeared in person — surprise! — strutting onto the stage. He greeted the crowd and soon joined Mr. Krinsky for a Q. and A. that the chief executive figured would be light and breezy. But Mr. O’Neal, as he often does, had other plans.

Mr. Krinsky had just gotten through asking his second question — a softball along the lines of which of Mr. O’Neal’s four N.B.A. championships was his favorite — when Mr. O’Neal made an impromptu speech that Mr. Krinsky recalled as part sermon, part pep talk.

“Listen, we’re getting back into basketball,” Mr. O’Neal said. “And I want everyone in here to understand there are no excuses. Everyone needs to be 100 percent in on this, because I’m 100 percent in on this.”

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