When we talk about the most popular athletic wear brands, Puma is a definite contender. For several years, Puma’s name has been actively associated with major sporting events. And in 2018 it announced a partnership with NBA.
Puma has worked with many athletes including big names like Usain Bolt, soccer players like Sergio Aguero and Neymar, and a lot more. However, when it comes to the NBA, for a long time the market was dominated by major athletic brands like NIKE, and Adidas. Until 2018, Adidas and Nike had been sweeping up across the NBA, but ahead of the 2018 Draft, puma signed five of the top 16 picks and relaunched itself in the NBA in a spectacular fashion.
Moreover, as Puma entered the NBA, they also announced their partnership with one of the biggest hip-hop stars on the planet. Ahead of the NBA draft in 2018, Puma announced Jay-Z as their new Creative Director of Basketball Operations.
Jay-Z, the hip-hop legend, rapper, and producer was to play an integral role in talent-spotting, and he was charged with leading the marketing efforts and creative projects of Puma’s investment in Basketball and the NBA.
Ever since this announcement, Puma has upped the cash flow and started landing deals with some of the hottest up-and-coming talents in the NBA. In 2018, Puma signed five draftees, who were Marvin Bagley from the Sacramento Kings, DeAndre Ayton from the Phoenix Suns, Kevin Knox from the New York Knicks, Zhaire Smith from the Philadelphia 76ers, and Michael Porter Jr from Denver Nuggets.
DeAndre Ayton was the biggest shock of all since he was the number one pick. The 19-year-old star signed a multi-million-dollar four-year deal with Puma.
Since 2018, many incredible NBA athletes have become brand ambassadors for Puma.
Deandre Ayton plays for the Phoenix Suns, and he is the only player associated with the franchise to be the first overall pick in an NBA draft. So, naturally, Ayton had some hype behind him, which he proved to be totally justified with his incredible performance in his debut game against the Dallas Mavericks
In his debut game, Ayton scored 18 points, with 10 rebounds and a season-high 6 assists. Ayton guided his team to a 121–100 win with his incredible performance.
Though Ayton had an incredible 2018-2019 season, the next year wasn’t as impressive for him. First, he got suspended for 25 games, since he had failed a dope test, testing positive for a banned substance. Then, after playing a single game, he was again sidelined for the next five because of a sprained ankle.
However, Ayton did make excellent use of his time off and released a new lifestyle sneaker as a part of his partnership with Puma. The Puma RS-X Deandre had a 1980s-inspired silhouette and a color scheme that paid homage to Ayton’s native country. Deandre Ayton hails from the Bahamas, and Puma also announced that for every purchase of the RS-X Deandre, it will donate $25 to assist relief efforts for the people affected by Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas
RJ Barrett Jr. plays for the New York Knicks, and he is one of the most popular NBA athletes signed with Puma.
He was the third overall pick for the 2019 NBA draft and made his debut with the knicks in a 111–120 loss to the San Antonio Spurs, however, Barrett had an impressive performance. He finished the season with an impressive average of 14.3 points, 5 rebounds, and 2.6 assists with a little over 30 minutes of game time.
Earlier this year, Barrett scored a career-high 28 points, with 5 assists and 2 rebounds, in an impressive win over the Golden State Warriors.
Though Barret’s partnership with Puma is still quite new, when he was asked about designing his custom sneakers, he said that he would value comfort the most, and would prefer low cuts, which he normally plays in.
LaMelo started his pro career in 2018 when he signed with Prienai, becoming the youngest American basketball player to sign a pro basketball contract. Ball left the team in April of 2018 because of a disagreement with the head coach for not getting enough playing time.
After a successful season in the JBA with Los Angeles ballers and an international tour with JBA USA, Ball signed a two-year contract with Illawarra Hawks of the National basketball league in Australia, in June of 2019.
Ball became the youngest NBL player to score a triple-double when he scored 32 points, 11 rebounds, and 13 assists in a victory over Cairns taipans. He scored another triple-double in the following game to become the fourth player to score consecutive triple-doubles in the history of the NBL.
He became the NBL rookie player of the year at the end of the season before returning back to America to prepare for the 2020 NBA drafts.
Ball was selected by the Charlotte Hornets on November 8, 2020 and made his NBA debut on 23 December 2020 when he spent 16 minutes on the court going scoreless with 1 rebound, 3 assists, and 2 steals against the Cleveland Cleavers
Ball was previously signed with BBB but decided to distance himself from his father’s brand in an effort to explore other options. Ball landed a shoe deal with Puma in October of 2020. The deal is reportedly worth $100 million and also gives him access to Puma’s private jet.
Bagley made his debut on June 21, 2018, when he was drafted by the Sacramento Kings as the second overall pick in the draft.
In his first game, he spent 12 minutes on the court and registered 6 points and 5 rebounds in a losing cause against the Utah jazz. He scored his career-high against the Brooklyn Nets registering 28 points. Bagley sprained his knee in a game that season against the Golden State Warriors which sidelined him for a total of eleven games.
In June 2018 Bagley landed a five-year footwear and apparel deal with Puma. The deal was a part of Puma’s effort to relaunch its basketball footwear business and it is valued between 2-3 million dollars a year.
Sterling Brown was selected by the Philadelphia 76ers in the 2017 draft. However, his draft rights were traded to Milwaukee Bucks in exchange for cash consideration.
He made his debut against the Cleveland Cleavers on October 20, 2017 and scored his season-high against the Houston Rockets posting 15 points. He scored his career-high on March 31, 2019, against the Atlanta Hawks when he posted a total of 27 points.
Sterling Brown signed a shoe deal with Puma in February 2019 and wore the Puma Clyde Hardwood for the 2019-2020 season and switched to Clyde All-pro for the next season.
Cousins has been with the Houston Rockets since 2020 but he has represented several different franchises over the last decade, including Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings. He made his NBA debut in 2010 when he was picked by the Sacramento Kings. His career-high came in a home loss against the Charlotte Hornets when he scored 56 points.
Cousins became an official part of the Puma team in October 2018. He is one of the most accomplished players signed by a puma and has already proved his worth several times. He signed a multi-year deal with Puma which became official when Nike declined to practice their right to match the offer.
Green started his NBA career in 2009 when he was drafted by the Cleveland Cleavers. He has since changed franchises several times. He played for San Antonio Spurs in 2010 before moving to Austin Spurs in 2011. Green has also represented the LA Lakers and Toronto Raptors. He is currently with the Philadelphia 76sers. His career-high of 33 points came against the Phoenix Suns on April 11, 2014.
Green signed a multi-year deal with a puma in October 2018 when he was with the Toronto Raptors. Green posted a video of a puma on his Instagram on October 8th hinting towards his deal with Puma. The deal was made official the following day on October 9th, 2018.
Derrick Jones Jr.
Derrick Jones was drafted by the phoenix suns in 2016 and made his NBA debut on November 19, 2016, against the Philadelphia 76ers. Jones made his move to the Miami heat in December of 2017 where he stayed for around 3 years till 2020.
He scored his career-high against the Dallas Mavericks when he scored 15 points in a 124-111 win. He signed with the Portland Trail Blazers on November 22, 2020, and is currently with the same franchise.
Jones won the 2020 NBA slam dunk championship which gave him more than just a trophy. He ended up signing a multiyear footwear and apparel deal with Puma. He was wearing white and pink Clyde hardwood sneakers in the contest and Puma offered him the deal shortly after the contest.
Kyle Kuzma made his NBA debut against the Brooklyn nets in November 2017 and registered his first double-double scoring 21 points in a 124-112 win over the nets. Kuzma’s career-high came against the Detroit Pistons on January 9, 2019, when he scored 41 points in a 113-110 win. He currently plays for the LA Lakers.
Kuzma signed a five-year deal with Puma that is worth around 20 million dollars. He was previously signed with Nike and was making a mere $25,000 a year. With the new deal with Puma, Kuzma will be making somewhere around $3 million dollars a year.
The revival of Puma in the NBA market was unexpected, to say the least. In a market that was dominated by signature shoes, Puma has done really well to make a comeback, not only do they have some of the hottest names in the NBA like, Deandre Ayton and Lamelo Ball, they have also been signing new, up, and coming players regularly which has set them apart from other famous brands.
Another move that worked for Puma was signing Jay-Z as the creative director of their basketball division. Jay-Z was deeply involved in the marketing concepts and also helped design the private jet that was made available to the Puma roaster.
Jay-Z certainly helped revive Puma by breaking into a market that seemed virtually impenetrable.