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Shaq, Reebok Parting Ways

After six years of hawking Reebok basketball shoes, Shaquille O'Neal is calling it quits.

The Los Angeles Lakers' center signed a contract six years ago to endorse the Stoneham, Mass.-based company's footwear and apparel, but the deal ended Tuesday after both parties agreed to dissolve the relationship, according to Reebok spokesman Dave Fogelson.

Fogelson said the agreement not to renew O'Neal's $15 million, five-year deal was mutual.

The company will continue using star athletes to endorse its products, but Fogelson said "the message is about the product, and what the product brings the athlete."

O'Neal's agent, Leonard Armato, said he expects to announce soon another footwear and apparel deal for O'Neal. Armato said that O'Neal will take this opportunity to develop a "whole new direction."

Reebok reported a 12.2 percent drop in U.S. shoe sales during the first three months of this year, prompting it to trim 50 NBA players from its list of 70 endorsers. Rival companies Nike, Fila and Converse are also considering cuts.

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