Puma landed the possible No. 1 pick in this year’s NBA Draft, LaMelo Ball, with Jay-Z on one side as the shoe brand’s creative director and the other side as the owner of Roc Nation Sports, the agency that represents Ball.
Ball announced his Puma endorsement Wednesday on his Instagram account, which has 5.6 million followers. Massive social media influence aside, Ball can ball. At 6 feet 7 inches and 19 years of age, Ball could be the NBA Draft’s No. 1 selection by the Minnesota Timberwolves on Nov. 18. His product capsule will coincide.
“I believe the brand is the perfect partner for me because Puma will allow me to just be myself,” Ball said. “I want to be 100% authentic, whether that’s playing basketball or showing off my personal style.”
Ball knows something about how this goes down. His family famously launched Big Baller Brand in 2017, when his brothers, Lonzo and LiAngelo, were also wearing the shoe that failed to connect with the masses. LaMelo was 16 at the time, and he has played professionally in Lithuania and Australia since then.
This is not your father’s Walt Frazier brand of Pumas, although “Clyde” is back with a lifetime deal. Jay-Z came aboard in 2018 as Puma brought back a basketball division for the first time in 20 years. It has had more success in landing new talent, such as Deandre Ayton and R.J. Barrett, while getting some veterans, such as DeMarcus Cousins and Marcus Smart.
Ball has a chance to be a game-changer in the NBA and the shoe world, but Puma’s stock is going to improve quicker than Minnesota’s standing.