You could call it a resurrection of sorts. After decades on the sidelines, Puma is making another huge splash in the business of hoops naming Jay-Z as its president of basketball operations. The music and business mogul, whose real name is Shawn Carter, will help recruit players and lead the brand’s marketing strategies and art design.
“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,” Puma’s Global Director of Brand and Marketing, Adam Petrick told Complex.
The Jay-Z announcement is the latest in a day of significant moves by Puma’s basketball division. The apparel company also signed the projected first pick in this week’s NBA Draft DeAndre Ayton and NBA Hall of Famer Walt Frazier. Potential top-five pick Marvin Bagley announced he signed Puma last week.
To celebrate signings, Puma released a special limited edition of Frazier’s signature “Clydes” at an event in Brooklyn. Frazier was the company’s first marquee athlete in the 1970’s.
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. pic.twitter.com/fmbgi5B0M0
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) June 18, 2018
On the day they announce DeAndre Ayton’s shoe deal, Puma signs Walt ‘Clyde’ Frazier – the company’s original endorser – to a lifetime deal: pic.twitter.com/X4F8ISCl9n
— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) June 18, 2018
It’s been a long time since Puma has been a factor in the world of basketball apparel. Bagley, Ayton and potential first-round pick Zhaire Smith are the first basketball players to sign with Puma since Vince Carter in 1998. Bagley will reportedly make $2-3 million per year for five years under his Puma agreement.
“I chose Puma because I wanted to be different,” Bagley told Bleacher Report. “I saw an opportunity where I could come in and build from the jump and work to get to a certain level.”
Puma will still have a huge hill to catch up to hoops brand powers Nike and Adidas. Both companies have inked most of the NBA’s top stars and are two of the most valued brands in the world. According to Brand Finance, Nike was the world’s top apparel brand in 2017— valued at $28 billion. Adidas came in fourth place, at $14.3 billion.
But Puma signing Jay-Z could signal a shift in power. According to Forbes, Jay-Z boosted his net worth to $900 million this year due to business ventures with Armand de Brignac champagne, D’Ussé cognac, Roc Nation, and Tidal.
“What’s important to him (Jay-Z) on a day like today is that it’s clear we’re making a serious push with players like Bagley and Ayton and Smith, said Petrick. “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.”