We’ve all seen Puma’s stylish, classic basketball shoes, both on and off the court. From Selena Gomez music videos to high pressure NBA games, these shoes, with their signature “cat” logo and formstripe down the sides, are a cultural standard in the worlds of basketball and street culture.
But how much do you really know about the history and origins of Puma basketball shoes? What players currently play wearing Puma shoes? And what options are available for the stylish consumer looking to score themselves a pair of good looking Puma basketball shoes?
Look no further. Our complete guide to Puma basketball shoes will teach you everything you need to know about the history and design of these classic kicks.
Puma Shoes Before Basketball
Puma shoes have been around since long before they made their way onto the NBA courts. The Puma company was established in 1948 after two German brothers, Adi and Rudolph Dassler, had a falling out and went their separate ways to start their own individual shoe companies.
Rudolph Dassler founded Puma, which focused from the beginning on athletic shoes with a stylish formstripe down the sides. They opened with a soccer shoe called the Atom, then made shoes for runners and other athletes.
Within a few years of their launch, Puma shoes started making sports history. Josef Barthel was wearing Puma shoes when he won the Olympic Gold Medal for running in the Men’s 1500 Metre race at the 1952 Olympics. In 1954, runner Heinz Fütterer broke the world record for the 100 meter dash, also while wearing PUMA running shoes.
Puma shoes were also present during another sports history moment – on the podium in 1968 when athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos used their platform as Olympic medal winners to protest racial injustice.
Puma Basketball Shoes Get Their Start
Puma Basketball Shoes were the very first basketball shoes to be endorsed by a famous player. In the 1970s, a point guard named Walt Frazier, who went by “Clyde” to his fans and teammates, played for the New York Knicks and later the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Walt “Clyde” Frazier was an amazing player, highly successful on the court with a career average of 18.9, plus nearly 6 rebounds and assists each, per game. This incredible play style won him a place in the Basketball Hall of Fame by the end of the 1980s.
But Clyde wasn’t just a powerhouse on the court – he was also a flashy, fashionable celebrity known for his excellent tase in cars and fashion. In fact, his extravagant fashion sense was what earned him the nickname “Clyde,” because his wide brimmed hat and well tailored suits reminded his friends of the famous bank robber from Bonnie & Clyde.
Because of this reputation, the German shoe maker Rudolph Dassler asked Clyde to become a spokesman for his shoe company by wearing and promoting their new line of athletic shoes.
The Puma Suede Changes History
Unfortunately, Clyde didn’t like the way Rudolf Dassler’s new PUMA shoes looked. So he helped redesign their Puma basketball shoes, adding his own personal style and flair until they became what we now know as the Puma Suede.
The Puma Suede, which bore Clyde’s name on one side, was instantly popular not only with basketball players but with the young tastemakers of the New York streets. This led to its popularity among a variety of New York street cultures, including rap, hip hop, breakdancing, and skateboarding.
But the Puma Suede, designed and promoted by Walt “Clyde” Frazier, didn’t just change the culture and style of basketball shoes. It also created the concept of athletic endorsement deals, especially for shoes and apparel, which would then lead to other famous designs such as Michael Jordan’s shoe line.
And Clyde wasn’t the only basketball legend to wear and promote Puma basketball shoes. Isiah Thomas, who played for the Detroit Pistons and also made his way into the Basketball Hall of Fame, was wearing his Puma basketball shoes when he was named the Most Valuable Player of the 1990 NBA Finals.
Puma Basketball Shoes Today
Although Puma basketball shoes have a long history in the world of basketball, they’re anything but obsolete these days. In 2019, Puma took on Jay-Z as a collaborator and creative director, and once again began supplying their incredible shoes to NBA players.
That year, Puma also launched a new sneaker called the Clyde Court Disrupt, taking them back to their 70s roots with a shoe inspired by their original icon. But they’re not just clinging to the past. In fact, by the end of 2019, more players were wearing Puma basketball shoes on the court than at any other time in the history of the NBA.
Players Who Wear Puma Basketball Shoes
Puma’s roster has always been epic, including a number of Hall of Famers and basketball legends like Ralph Sampson, Nate “Tiny” Archibald, Vince Carter, and Alex English.
Puma’s current endorsements include a number of spectacular players wearing Pumas on the court, including Skylar Diggins-Smith of the WNBA’s Dallas wings team. By signing with Puma in 2017, Skylar Diggins-Smith became the first pro basketball player to endorse Puma since the 1990s!
In an interview about her deal with Puma, Skylar Diggins-Smith explained that she likes the “lifestyle aspect” of Puma’s footwear, which lets her enjoy them on and off the court. To launch their deal with her, Puma took measurements of her feet and created unique, personalized shoes fitted specifically to her feet.
Later, Puma signed with Deandre Ayton, who played for the University of Arizona Wildcats before being drafted by the Phoenix Suns. He is quoted describing Puma basketball shoes as “mad comfortable,” and says he hopes to be the youngest player to design a signature shoe with Puma.
Terry Rozier, point guard for the Boston Celtics, signed with Puma in 2018, saying “I’m with Puma now” in an interview about his decision. Puma also works with the young player Kyle Kuzma, known for his comedic social media presence and friendships with influencers like Kendall Jenner.
DeMarcus Cousins joined the brand in 2018 as well, saying he liked the company’s “genuine and authentic feel” and felt that they “like to do things wild and different. He says he hopes to use his platform with Puma to speak out about social issues, especially those that impacted his childhood.
Puma Basketball Shoe Features
Puma basketball shoes have changed significantly over the decades, from their humble origins as German soccer shoes from the early 20th century. With new changes in material science and constant design innovations, Puma shoes have led the field when it comes to developing the best technology for athletes anyone else who enjoys the comfort and style of Puma shoes.
In 1991, the Puma DISC system was released. This high tech replacement for shoe laces used a turning dial to ensure that the entire shoe fit the wearer perfectly. Nearly fifteen years later, they were still iterating on this groundbreaking technology. Olympian Usain Bolt helped them launch the Puma Autodisc, which uses a servo motor to automatically create the perfect fit within this high tech shoe.
Puma is also known for its signature Puma CELL system, which uses interlocking cells of air to create a comfortable, cushioned feel. By making the interior of the CELL system visible, Puma not only ensured that wearers could see and understand their unique technology, they also ushered in a new retro style that is making a comeback with their relaunched CELL shoes, the CELL Endura and the CELL Venom.
Puma Basketball Shoe Designs
Whether you’re into the old school cool of Walt “Clyde” Frazier, the original Puma representative, or you’re more like Kyle Kuzma, a millennial who is always up on the newest trend, there’s a Puma basketball shoe for you!
Classic Puma Basketball Shoe Designs
Let’s start at the very beginning – some old shoes with a new twist. The Rudolph Dassler Legacy Collection takes classic Puma shoes from various decades throughout the shoe’s storied past, all the way back to the Oslo from 1952. Then it gives these older shoes a modern overhaul, releasing shoes with a vintage look but made with updated technology and materials.
If re-releases of classic and vintage Puma basketball shoes are your thing, you don’t have to stop with their Rudolph Dassler Legacy Collection. They’ve also revived their 80s model the Puma Majesty, worn by Houston Rockets player Ralph Sampson. After reconnecting with the retired player, Puma released the Puma Ralph Sampson in a number of 80s inspired styles.
Puma Basketball Shoes for Athletes
For basketball players looking for a shoe with excellent performance on the court, check out the highly rated Puma Uproar, which uses a full rubber outsole for better traction and increases the adjustability of the fit by ensuring that the laces go all the way up to the top of the shoe. Its dynamic lacing system also gives extra support.
Or, try the PUMA Palace Guard, which was visible on the court as the preferred shoe of the Detroit Pistons’ Isiah Thomas. It comes in a variety of colors and is considered fashionable and exciting. Its cushioned sides provide a comfortable feel, and it’s known for providing good feedback whether you’re playing on a wooden court floor or outdoors on asphalt and concrete.
For players whose preferred surface is an outdoor court, the PUMA Sky II Hi is the best choice. Ideal for playing outside, the PUMA Sky II Hi is weatherized and durable. It also provides more ankle support and protection than other Puma basketball shoes, helping to prevent injuries. All these features make it a versatile shoe, good for hiking or working outside.
Puma Basketball Shoes Inspired By Graffiti & Street Art
DIY and street art culture have influenced hip hop and basketball style since they began. Puma honored these “sneaker creatives” that have applied their own individual styles to shoe design by launching their PUMA Hacked Collection as an exclusive partnership with Foot Locker.
The PUMA Hacked Collection involved two drops: the first one with three silhouettes in all-white color schemes intended to invite wearers and artists to treat the shoe as a blank canvas. To further this project, they teamed up with Foot Locker to host design workshops in various locations, where expert sneaker designers would teach community members how to personalize their own kicks.
After the world’s artists had a chance to make their mark on Puma basketball shoes, the company gave fans a second drop, including four more sneakers in the Puma Hacked Collection, all in suede and inspired by the creativity and ingenuity of the “hackers” who made their shoes unique.
Still looking for more Puma shoes with a street art flair? Check out the Puma Clyde available in the “graffiti” colorway.
Puma Basketball Shoes by Emory Jones
Musical entrepreneur and Roc Nation collaborator Emory Jones has worked with Puma for over a decade, twice releasing his own shoe and apparel line with Puma. His partnership with the brand grew out of his relationship with hip hop star Jay-Z, who leads the creative direction for Puma’s basketball shoes.
His most recent line is based on his personal mantra, “Bet On Yourself,” and includes three sneakers: the Clyde x Emory Jones, the RS-0 Emory Jones, and the RS 100 x Emory Jones. All of them highlight Jones’s personal style with a teal and rose gold color scheme.
But it’s not just sneakers that Emory Jones helped design and launch with Puma. His “Bet On Yourself” line also includes retro inspired tracksuit components such as the Spezial Groove City Track Jacket and matching Spezial Groove City Pants. For those with simpler tastes, the collection also provides a handful of “Bet On Yourself” themed tee shirts and pullovers.
Where To Buy Puma Basketball Shoes
Perhaps the best place to shop for Puma basketball shoes is on the official Puma website, where you can see all their new releases and even shop their sale section. The Puma website also includes slick photos of all Puma designs, plus cool Instagram photos of real people wearing their shoes!
If you’re interested in shopping for a good cause, check out Puma’s #REFORM section where you can learn about their work to support social causes like gender equality, racial justice, and LGBTQ+ inclusion.
When you shop for Puma basketball shoes on the Puma website, you can also “Join The Puma Fam” with a membership that lets you track your purchases and earn discounts on Puma merchandise.
Amazon is also a great place to shop for Puma products. With their fast shipping, you can be hitting the streets or the court in your Puma apparel within a few days of purchase!
Buy Used or Rare Puma Basketball Shoes
However, due to the fact that Puma often releases limited or time bound collections, it can be difficult to find a specific shoe for sale from a standard retailer. If what you’re looking for has been sold out or is no longer available through Amazon or the official Puma website, you can check a website that lets you trade or buy shoes from someone who already has them.
Trusted Kicks has two locations, one in Houston and one in Milwaukee, where they receive, and inspect sneakers and other cool street clothing. You can then order what you need from their online storefront.
Sneaker Con provides security and trustworthiness by authenticating shoes and then providing them with a LEGIT Tag that can be scanned using NFC technology. Their LEGIT Tags not only help you determine the authenticity of an item, but can also be scanned to give you access to events and giveaways hosted by Sneaker Con.
StockX describes themselves as the world’s first stock market for things. They let anyone list an item of classic street style for sale, then you can bid on what you’d like to pay for it. After you and a seller agree on a price, the seller sends the item to StockX, which authenticates it before shipping it to you. This unique system protects your anonymity and guarantees that you won’t get ripped off with a fake item.
Sole360 saves you money and connects you with other sneaker heads by letting you trade sneakers from your collection. Browse their sneakers on offer until you find something you like, then offer a trade based on what you’ve got. Once you and someone else agree on a trade, you’ll both send your shoes to Sole360, who acts as a middleman to authenticate all items being traded.