Puma is all set to return to basketball after staying away from one of the most popular and richest sports for 20 years.
The German sports manufacturer Puma is returning to the basketball market after a 20-year absence. The move comes in the week of the National Basketball Association (NBA) draft and company has announced various initiatives, appointments and signings to create impact in the market.
Jay-Z, the American rapper, has been appointed as the creative director of Puma’s basketball operations.
Other than this, Puma has already signed a trio of young players, all of whom are expected to be selected as first-round picks in the NBA draft. Deandre Ayton, Marvin Bagley III and Zhaire Smith have all agreed a multi-year footwear and clothing endorsement deals with Puma.
Prior to the agreement with Bagley, Puma’s last basketball deal came with Vince Carter in 1998.
Walt Frazier, the 73-year-old former NBA legend, has also been signed to a lifetime contract with Puma.
Adam Petrick, global director of brand and marketing at Puma, said: “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 the culture around basketball, as much as the on-court presence that we will have,” Petrick added.
A Puma spokesman originally described Jay-Z, whose birth name was Shawn Carter, as president of Puma basketball, but this has since been clarified.
The 48-year-old songwriter is expected to lead creative projects and marketing efforts in relation to the company’s revived basketball interests. He will also have a role in assisting with talent-spotting of NBA players to join the brand.
The news comes after Belgium and Manchester United soccer player Romelu Lukaku signed a long-term sponsorship deal with the German sportswear giant.