Just in case you didn’t know, here’s the breaking news of the day: Puma is back in the basketball business. The company has announced the signings of top draft prospects Deandre Ayton (Arizona), Marvin Bagley III (Duke), and Zhaire Smith (Texas Tech).
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The Ayton signing was announced today. The projected No. 1 pick in this week’s NBA draft signed a four-year, multimillion-dollar footwear and apparel endorsement deal. Ayton, a native of the Bahamas, shares a Caribbean connection to two of Puma’s biggest ambassadors in Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt of Jamaica and pop star Rihanna of Barbados.
“Puma is pretty popular in the Bahamas,” Ayton said. “I’ve always seen the brand growing up. [Bolt] is one of the first people I saw with the brand. It’s important to me that someone I identify with and admire as an athlete is with the same brand.”
@PUMA Life’s Good
In case competitors in the lucrative athletic shoe and apparel industry didn’t take Puma’s re-emergence into the basketball space seriously, they’ve taken immediate notice now that Jay-Z has joined as the company’s president of basketball operations.
“We’ve been working with Roc Nation for quite some time. They’ve been great partners to us for several years. We’ve done many different deals with many different ambassadors,” Adam Petrick, Puma’s global director of brand and marketing, told Complex. When Puma approached him about this opportunity, Jay-Z felt it “was something he wanted to be a part of,” according to Petrick.
“What’s important to him on a day like today is that it’s clear we’re making a serious push with players like Bagley and Ayton and Smith. We’re making a serious statement about the entry of the category, that we want to be a performance brand, but then also very culturally focused. It’s clear that we’re looking at basketball through the lens of culture, and thinking about the fashion of basketball, the music of basketball, all the aspects of culture around basketball as much as the on court presence that we will have,” Petrick added.
The worst kept secret: Puma is back in basketball. Company signing their first endorser Walt Clyde Frazier to a lifetime deal. Releasing 73 limited editions pairs at place on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn today. New handle is @PUMAHoops.
Puma was once the essence of cool in the ’70s due to its affiliation with Clyde Frazier. In the spirit of their history of defining cool through the essence of Frazier’s resonance on the cultural landscape back in the day, the brand also announced a renewed lifetime partnership with its longtime brand icon, who launched Puma’s first signature basketball shoe in 1973.
Stay tuned, because as the late Notorious B.I.G. once said, things done changed!