The athletic brand is relaunching its basketball division and, to that end, has made a big splash in the days leading up to the NBA draft, announcing Monday that it has officially signed Deandre Ayton and Marvin Bagley III, considered by many to be the top two players in this class.
This marks the first time Puma has signed a men’s basketball player since Vince Carter entered the NBA in 1998. Puma had previously signed Skylar Diggins Smith in August. Puma’s history in the sport dates back to the 1970s, though, when Walt “Clyde” Frazier famously rocked his Puma Clyde shoes on the court while playing for the Knicks and Cavaliers.
Now, Ayton and Bagley will be the face of Puma basketball and kick off a new generation of Puma basketball athletes.
In exclusive interviews with B/R Kicks (edited for clarity and length), Ayton and Bagley explained their decisions to sign with Puma, why it was significant to get in on the ground level and what we can expect from their Puma partnership.
Bleacher Report: It’s the question on everyone’s mind. Why Puma?
Marvin Bagley III: I chose Puma because I wanted to be different. I saw an opportunity where I could come in and build from the jump and work to get to a certain level. I saw myself doing that. They have some real nice stuff. I’m very excited about it, and I can’t wait to get to know everybody, keep working with everybody and keep improving.
Deandre Ayton: Puma was the best deal. To me, anybody can make your shoe. Anybody can make the best shoe for you and put the right fit in the shoe. We were dealing with Nike people, Under Armour and all the other shoe companies for a pretty long time. We ain’t really got bad blood with any of them, but it’s not bad to start something new. We just thought Puma was the right fit. My mom had a friend at Puma, but we didn’t really know she was with Puma. But as I started to get more exposure to the world and basketball, she told us she was with Puma and knew people there. Just knowing all of these people personally, my mom felt comfortable. Another thing is that all these other brands got all these other superstars. It’s good that I’m one of the few that’s signed with Puma.