LOS ANGELES- The Puma basketball re-emergence is fully upon us. While swooshes, three stripes, and the Jumpman are the standard hardware on the floor, it’s been a while since the “formstrip” made waves … specifically, you’d have to look back to the immortal Vince Carter’s rookie year in Toronto 20 years ago.
Now, the Puma basketball re-emergence has come about via key moves throughout 2018 that brought back the brand’s culture and spirit. Jay-Z was announced as the creative director. Then, Puma went heavy into the 2018 NBA Draft pool, adding DeAndre Ayton, Marvin Bagley III, Kevin Knox, Michael Porter Jr., and Zhaire Smith to their roster. With Celtics guard Terry Rozier, Spurs swingman Rudy Gay, and WNBA star Skylar Diggins-Smith on board, Puma put together quite the squad in a relatively short amount of time.
At the beginning of the movement, though, was west coast hip-hop icon Nipsey Hussle, who started collaborating with Puma in 2017.
“I’ve been working with Chief before, just on fashion collaborations and marketing, too,” Nipsey told Dime of his initial involvement with Chief Johnson, who heads Puma’s entertainment marketing arm.
“It’s part of me being an L.A. native,” Hussle is quick to point out. “Certain sneakers were a part of our culture growing up. The Puma Clydes, the Puma Suedes, some of the classic silhouettes we just grew up wearing them. I just told him, I wear Puma, anyway.”
Beyond style and performance, it’s Puma’s rich history the weaves the brand with sports culture. Before the likes of Russell Westbrook or James Harden were making off-court fashion statements, 70s drip icon Clyde Frazier was decked out in fedoras and mink coats with Pumas on his feet.