For almost 20 decades, basketball wasn’t on the agenda at Puma. It isn’t that Puma didn’t make itself relevant in the industry, its quite the opposite – Puma made the first signature sneaker ever. That makes the sportswear brand a real fashion legend. With Jay-Z as creative director and a whole #PUMAFam on the side, makes Puma its way to return this year. To celebrate: a timeline of the Puma basketball kicks. Starting with a classic: The Puma Clyde.
1973: Puma Clyde
As been mentioned, Puma was the first sportswear brand that made a signature sneaker. This sneaker was for legend Walt “Clyde” Frazier, which got his nickname from the hat that he wore when he played for his seventh, and last, NBA All-star team. The hat looked like the one that Clyde Barrow (played by Warren Beatty) wore in the movie Bonnie and Clyde (1967). Frazier was already known for its fashionable style with his suits, but the Puma Clyde sneakers made it jaw-dropping.
The Knicks had their own sneakers when Walt played for them in 1970. He got frustrated by the model of the sneaker – he wanted a lighter and wider version of the sneaker, and if possible, designed with a sufficient interior padding. He approached Puma and the rest is history. The Puma Suede, nicknamed the Puma Clyde, was born. The model of the kicks weren’t in fashion at that time but nevertheless, the sneakers were selling very well. They became the favourite under the b-boys and hip hop legends from the 80-ies.
1980: PUMA Sky ll HI
The Puma Sky ll HI got really quick popular in many NBA teams. The model got a high fit, which was very stable and it took care of the player its ankles. The sole of the sneaker was flexible so that the material could propel the movements of the feet easily.
1983: PUMA Ralph Sampson
The story of the kicks started when Ralph Sampson went into the NBA in 1983. Before that time, Sampson wore the 7-foot-four PRO-Keds. The production of these sneakers stopped, and Sampson had to look for new ones. He went to Puma for help.
The Puma Ralph Sampson became a top seller: an enormous shoe size, perfect support and a long life cycle. Sampson used his sneakers for the game and people where interested in buying them. As a result, some of them where totally worn out when they got auctioned. That’s how the Sampson got its identity.
1999: Puma Cell VI
Most people still think that this sneaker is Vince Carter’s debut signature sneaker. When in fact it’s the Puma Vinsanity. Back in January 1999, Puma introduced an ad that communicated “Vince Carter’s shoe for the fall NBA season” with, you can already guess it, the PUMA Cell IV on. The Puma Vinsanity remained unworn, while the Puma Cell VI became enormously populair.
After almost two decades Puma is interacting with the basketball industry again. Puma decided to appoint Jay-Z as creative director for the basketball department and, as we may quote: “It’s all about Clyde .. You gotta go back to the beginning” With a new wave of basketball athletes Puma wants to embrace basketball culture with everything included: fashion, music and entertainment. Clyde as starting point; the swag and style.
Last October, DeAndre Ayton member of the #PUMAFAM, wore his new Puma’s for the first time. Just as before with Ralph Sampson, Puma had a problem with the large feet and sizing of the players’ feet. The Clyde Courts took a longer time to develop, but here they are.
The new wave of basketball athletes are DeMarcus Cousins (Golden State Warriors), Kevin Knox (New York Knicks), Danny Green (Toronto Raptors), Terry Rozier (Boston Celtics), Marvin Bagley lll (Sacramento Kings), DeAndre Ayton (Phoenix Suns), Zhaire Smith (Philadelphia 76ers), Michael Porter Jr. (Denver Nuggets) and Skylar Diggins-Smith (Dallas Wings). This new wave is part of the #PUMAFam. By focussing on DeAndre Ayton and its Clyde Court kicks, Puma is back in the game.