Puma’s name has been synonymous with major sporting events for many years. As part of this, the German brand has worked with some of the biggest names in world sports with key ambassadors including the legendary Usain Bolt, top-draw international soccer players such as Sergio Aguero, Neymar, Antoine Griezmann, and Cesc Fabregas, PGA Tour winner Rickie Fowler, and the now seven-time Formula One World Champion Lewis Hamilton.
Until recently, Puma’s name had not been part of the NBA. The brand’s reputation in the sport took a major hit when it signed a 10-year deal with Vince Carter back in 1998 only for Carter to end the deal after a year and a half citing that the shoes hurt his feet. Not good for brand reputation, especially as they didn’t yet have a strong presence in North America.
After the best part of twenty years and the likes of Adidas and Nike sweeping up across the NBA, Puma re-launched itself in the NBA ahead of the 2018 NBA Draft signing 5 of the top 16 picks.
Which current NBA stars have signed deals with Puma? The most notable NBA star signed with Puma is Lamelo Ball, the 2021 Rookie of the year has a signature shoe deal with the German brand. Pumas NBA roster also includes 2023 NBA Champion Michael Porter Jr. The roster is rounded out by Deandre Ayton, R.J. Barrett, Kyle Kuzma, Kevin Porter Jr, and Marcus Smart.
The complete list of NBA players signed by Puma is below:
|NBA Players Signed with Puma||NBA Players Signed with Puma|
|Deandre Ayton||Derrick Jones Jr.|
|RJ Barrett||Kevin Knox|
|LaMelo Ball||Kyle Kuzma|
|Marvin Bagley||Kendrick Nunn|
|Sterling Brown||Kevin Porter Jr.|
|DeMarcus Cousins||Michael Porter Jr.|
|Skylar Diggins-Smith||Terry Rozier|
|Rudy Gay||Katie Lou Samuelson|
|Danny Green||Marcus Smart|
When did the Puma Sign NBA Players?
As part of Puma’s moves into basketball and the NBA, before announcing any current players, they announced one that one the biggest stars on the planet was joining their ranks. Ahead of the 2018 NBA Draft, Puma announced none other than Jay-Z as their Creative Director of Basketball Operations. The legendary rapper and producer was charged with leading creative projects and marketing efforts across the brand’s basketball investments, as well as a hands-on role in assisting with talent-spotting of players to joint he brand.
Since that announcement, Puma has splashed the cash landing some of the hottest up-and-coming talents in the NBA. Securing five of the top 16 picks in the 2018 drafts is significant, especially when you consider the fact that both Nike and Adidas had dominated the draft with endorsement deals. Before 2018, Nike had signed 11 of the number one picks since 2001, with Adidas netting four.
But 2018 is when things changed. The five drafts signed by Puma that year came in the form of DeAndre Ayton (Phoenix Suns), Marvin Bagley (Sacramento Kings), Kevin Knox (New York Knicks), Michael Porter Jr (Denver Nuggets), and Zhaire Smith (Philadelphia 76ers) all on multi-year deals.
The biggest shock of all of these was DeAndre Ayton, the 2018 number one pick, who signed a non-disclosed multi-million-dollar four-year deal with the brand. The 19-year-old Bahamian star celebrated the deal alongside the legendary New York Knicks star Walt “Clyde” Frazier, the man behind Puma’s iconic 1973 Clyde sneaker.
Alongside the deal with Ayton, Marvin Bagley signed a five-year deal rumoured to be worth $2-3 million dollars per year. What made this partnership even more impressive for Puma and their play in the NBA was Bagley’s close connection with Nike throughout his high school and collegiate career after Nike funded his father’s AAU summer basketball team – somewhat of a coup for Puma. This was reportedly the largest rookie shoe deal given to any basketball player since Kevin Durrant signed his seven-year, $60million dollar deal with Nike back in 2007.
Who were the first NBA Players to sign with Puma?
Since the 2018 NBA Draft, Puma’s acquisitions and endorsements in the league showed no signs of slowing down. Since then, more players have joined Team Puma, but two names in particular stand out: LaMelo Ball and Kyle Kuzuma.
While still on his rookie contract, Kuzuma’s deal with Puma in 2019 represented their first move to sign a player not part of the current season’s draft pick. Since being drafted as the number 27 overall pick in 2017, Kuzuma has been one of the two leading point scorers for the Lakers. Puma have duly rewarded him with a $3million-per-year, five-year contract, meaning that Kuzuma will take home more money per year on his Puma deal than his rookie contract with the Lakers. In fact, Kuzuma had the lowest NBA salary of anyone that averaged at least 18 points per game in 2018.
When it came to the 2020 NBA Draft, the deal with LaMelo Ball, third overall pick with the Charlotte Hornets, blew Puma’s other deals out of the water. LaMelo’s deal is reported to be worth around the $100million mark.
Which WNBA Players are signed with Puma?
Puma’s push into basketball didn’t just incorporate the NBA, but also into the women’s game with the WNBA.
In fact, this was actually before Puma’s foray into the 2018 NBA Draft. WNBA star Skylar Diggins-Smith, a Roc Nation Sports client (managed by none other than Jay-Z), was the first basketball client to sign on with the brand in August 2017. In doing so, she rocked the Puma Clyde Court Disrupt sneaker at the 2018 WNBA All-Star Game in its original red, yellow and black colorway.
Across the WNBA, Puma also snapped up the likes of the Las Vegas Aces’ shooting guard Jackie Young, and the Dallas Wings’ small forward Katie Lou Sanders.
As part of this return to basketball, Puma also signed a league-wide footwear partnership with the WNBA alongside a similar deal with the NBA, allowing Puma to use the two leagues’ trademarks and players in its overall marketing material.
What is Lamelo Balls signature shoe?
Lamelo ball debuted his Puma Signature shoe in at the 2021 Summer League. The reigning rookie of the year and rising NBA Icon officially announced his first signature shoe before the start of the 2021-22 NBA season. The MB.01 became available for purchase in December 2021.
Current NBA Athletes are only a small part of Puma’s roster. Below is a list of other notable Puma Athletes from the past and the here and now.
|Notable Puma Athletes|