Puma splashes back into basketball market

A lot has changed in the Basketball shoe game since 1998. Jordan has taken off to the Max. Adidas has done the same. Under Armour just really got in the game. Nike has made some hits as well. But why did I just mention 1998?

1998 was the last time Puma had a true basketball rep on the market. That rep was Vince Carter. He put Toronto basketball on the map and he surely was a good reason why Puma stopped doing basketball shoes. Firstly, they had a falling out that went to court. Then Jordan was at another level. Plus, a lot of players and brands were sharing the stage. Grant Hill was rocking FILA. Rebook had the “Kamikaze” on the market. Reebok also dropped Allen Iverson’s “The Answer” during that time as well. Penny Hardaway had the Nike “Air Penny” plus some brilliant marketing to go with it. Plus Nike had endless hits back in the 90’s.

Overall, Puma was more of a lifestyle brand for clothing; not basketball shoes. Since then, they remained under the radar until a few years ago. They signed Selena Gomez, Kylie Jenner, Big Sean, Meek Mill, The Weeknd and Nipsey Hussle to their brand. But when Rihanna was added to the fold; Puma’s profit and popularity went up.

And now, they are clawing their way back to the basketball market. Top NBA Draft picks Deandre Ayton, Marvin Bagley III, Michael Porter Jr. and Zhaire Smith were added to Puma’s signings. WNBA Star, Skyler Diggins was signed to a Puma deal last year. NBA Free Agent, Rudy Gay was also signed to a deal.

Puma’s splash on draft night and immediate rise of “popup” shops shook the table for sure. But the table wasn’t fully shaking until Jay-Z was brought in as their creative director a few days later. It’s been a short-term since all of this but the World is still buzzing about it all.

Although the market is crowded, Puma can change the game and fully cater to their players. Here’s what I mean by that. There are only about 18 players in the NBA with shoe deals. You can read that list here.

That list includes Rondo, James, George, KD, Harden, Westbrook, Thompson and even Matthew Delladova? And yes, Lonzo Ball counts (BBB Forever).

But here’s the issue in that. That leaves every other player to either wear somewhere else shoes or to wear just general shoes by their brand that’s on the market. That’s what Stephen Curry dodged. He went to Under Armour and the whole brand was focused on him. Not every player can get a shoe but what a brand detail entails is key for sure. It’s all about the benefits. Why sign to Nike or Jordan when their brand is already loaded with current players.

In terms of Jay-Z, his fanbase alone can carry this brand to the top, I’ll talk about that in another article. But in terms of Basketball; does Puma have a shot to really make it work?

We will see in the next few months.

Follow me on Twitter (@_StephenSZN) and Instagram (stephen.szn) as I continue to update this story!

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