Considering the wild nature of 2020, you could forgive the world’s sportswear frontrunners for adopting a cautious approach. For PUMA, however, they’ve used the past 12 months to really flex their claws.
Since re-entering the performance basketball market back in 2019, the German giants have shown they’re not afraid to make ambitious moves both on and off the court. Building on that momentum, the Big Cat made some big moves to solidify their ever-growing roster of brand ambassadors in 2020.
Sure, they dropped some dope sneakers, but it was PUMA’s quest to bring together arguably the most intriguing lineup of talent in the sneaker world that caught our eyes.
Hittin’ the Court with Cole
Now established players on the hardwood, PUMA weren’t prepared to rest on their laurels in 2020. They kicked off the year in a big way, crossing-over the competition with the signing of hip hop headliner J. Cole to a multi-year deal.
While he may not be plying his trade in the NBA or professionally, Cole’s dedication to improve his game while focussing on his music gave PUMA plenty of impetus to bring him on board.
‘Since the beginning of what we’ve done with PUMA Basketball, we’ve always tried to be ‘culture first’. I personally believe basketball is one of the most culturally-driven sports out there – a unique blend of music, fashion, and obviously the sport itself…,’ explained Adam Petrick, PUMA’s Global Director of Brand and Marketing.
‘Cole is an accomplished player, albeit at a more amateur level, but he is such a student of the game. He works hard at his game, and has aspirations to play at a higher level – all this while pursuing his music career… There’s a deep connection to the game with Cole, so that’s why working together to make his own shoe – the RS-Dreamer – made sense to us.’
Arriving in various colourways in 2020, the RS-Dreamer is now a key model in PUMA’s ever-growing hoops lineup.
Ballin’ So Hard
Despite the signing of J. Cole, PUMA weren’t going to forget about their NBA roster. With rumours doing the rounds all year, PUMA finally announced the signing of third overall NBA draft pick LaMelo Ball.
One of league’s most gifted up-and-comers, the acquisition of the freshly minted Charlotte Hornet represents the next generation, in more ways than one.
‘Melo brings a different dimension. He’s got a unique style of play and impeccable court sense. Aside from what he can do on the court, Melo also has an uncanny connection to the younger generation of players,’ says Petrick. ‘I’m really looking forward to seeing Melo bring in people to PUMA Basketball that may have not necessarily thought about the brand before.’
No signature sneakers have been revealed yet, but we’re looking forward to some Ball ballers in 2021 – just not the BBB variety!
It wasn’t just the biggest sponsorship deal in football in 2020 – it was one of biggest coups the sport has ever seen. After over a decade as a Nike athlete, Brazil and PSG superstar Neymar is now PUMA’s marquee man when it comes to the world game.
Known for his fancy footwork and flair on the pitch, Neymar is set to bring that same energy to PUMA’s performance and lifestyle lineups.
‘In the case of Neymar, he was intrigued by what we were doing with basketball, as well as style and fashion, and our collaborations. He felt PUMA was the kind of place that would embrace him not only as a footballer, but as someone who has a sense of style and wants to show that to people,’ says Petrick.
‘We certainly see him as an icon in both realms.’
So far, we’ve seen him collaborate on two performance boots and apparel collections: the KING Platinum and the FUTURE Z 1.1. However, all signs point to his own signature lifestyle sneakers in the near future. Considering he had some bangers with the Swoosh, we have high hopes for his future projects with the Big Cat.