Puma has inked the possible top two picks in the 2018 NBA Draft in an effort to re-establish itself as a basketball brand. The likely No. 1 pick, Deandre Ayton, explained why he signed a four-year, multimillion-dollar footwear and apparel endorsement deal with Puma.
The 7-foot-1 forward credited the fastest man ever and a pop star for his Puma influence.
“Puma is pretty popular in the Bahamas,” Ayton, the Bahama native said, per ESPN’s Nick DePaula. “I’ve always seen the brand growing up. [Usain Bolt] is one of the first people I saw with the brand. It’s important to me that someone I identify with and admire as an athlete is with the same brand.”
Ayton later said Puma’s partnership with Rihanna also played a role in his decision.
Bolt (Jamaica) and singer Rihanna (Barbados) are two of Puma’s biggest ambassadors.
Puma has been out of the basketball business for 20 years. There’s been a renewed effort to revitalize its basketball brand this season, and Puma has been aggressive in its pursuit of future NBA players.
The company will relaunch its basketball products this fall. The brand also has signed former Duke star Marvin Bagley III.