Puma Basketball has taken the next major step in reviving its brand, signing presumptive NBA Draft lottery pick LaMelo Ball to a long-term deal.
The partnership has been rumoured since August, when he took a trip to Boston to meet with Puma personnel.
The 19-year-old LaMelo, the youngest of the infamous Ball brother trio — eldest Lonzo plays for the New Orleans Pelicans and middle brother LiAngelo is in the G League — is the first to sign an endorsement deal outside of their father LaVar’s Big Baller Brand.
Puma began growing its basketball footprint ahead of the 2018 Draft after a two-decade hiatus, signing No. 1 overall pick DeAndre Ayton, Marvin Bagley III, Kyle Kuzma, and Michael Porter Jr. The company initially brought on Jay-Z as president of Puma Basketball, later modifying that to “creative director” when questions arose about potential conflicts of interest with his Roc Nation sports agency.
“Puma’s been making waves since their comeback to basketball, not just on the court but for the culture,” LaMelo told Complex. “They’re doing big things and are the new wave of hoops.”
In 2017, the then-high school-aged LaMelo launched his own sneaker, the MB1, under Big Baller Brand. It retailed for $395.
Asked whether a signature shoe is in the cards with Puma, LaMelo was cryptic. In an announcement, Puma said that a LaMelo Ball T-shirt and hoodie set will drop on Nov. 18, the day of the 2020 NBA Draft, and that the company “will collaborate with Ball to create products that incorporate PUMA’s culture first approach – blurring the lines between sports, culture, music and fashion.”
“Puma was a good fit because they tie basketball, music, and fashion so well together and will allow me to really bring my creative vision to life,” LaMelo told Complex. “I don’t want to give too much away, but big things are coming. It’s been fun working with the Puma Hoops design team and I’ll just leave it at that.”
The partnership will operate under the campaign “Not from Here,” which LaMelo came up with “to represent his ‘one of one’ attitude,” Puma said.
Puma has had a big few weeks: in mid-September, the German company signed Brazilian soccer star Neymar Jr. to a long-term deal after he spent 15 years as a Nike endorser. That deal is reportedly worth around £23 million per year, or about $30 million.