“When I first endorsed the shoe in 1970s it was at a time when no-one got paid for it, you got lots of free shoes. But when PUMA approached me and actually offered to sponsor me - it was amazing. The Clyde wasn’t just a basketball shoe… you could style in this shoe. That’s why I endorsed it… it had a cool look to me. The way they jazzed it up with all the colors and the way they did the signature in gold. Whatever I had on the court, you could bet that the next day the kids would be out wearing that type of shoe…
Off the court, I used to wear my mink coat and my big hat and I’d have my Clydes on. No-one said anything about that. They thought it was cool. They didn’t see it as absurd that this guy was dressed up wearing a mink coat with sneakers. It became accepted as a fashionable shoe. If you wore Clydes man… you were cool, you knew what was happening. You were in style. They took a lot of pride in those shoes and obviously I was very proud that all these kids wanted to be like me. When you’re a part of something, you don’t think you’re becoming a part of history, so I was just thanking God that I was just fortunate enough to endorse this shoe. 30 years later I’m back again.
When I was ten or eleven, my sneakers were the hottest item in my wardrobe. I used to wash them with soap and brush them almost every night so they would be bright and white and dry by morning. I remember being very exact about how I laced them up before I went to play basketball in the dirty schoolyard in Atlanta. I remember how full of pride I was when I used to wear my sneakers, and how I dug looking down and catching myself walking in them.
I would play in the schoolyard and try to dribble and the ball would be bouncing all over the place. That memory is as clear as when I was driving hoops with the New York Knicks with 20,000 people screaming... I’d make the basket, hear the roar, the sound would come down at me like waves, and I still had the same feelings. That pride meant I had to look a particular way when I played. I’d check myself in the mirror, my hairline had to be just right. I’d pat down my ‘burns’. My PUMAs brushed and laced, my uniform crisp. I’d catch my profile. ‘Yeah Clyde,’ I’d say, “You’ve got it!”
Walt "Clyde" Frazier
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