Why This NBA Player Covered the Nike Logo on His Game-Day Sneakers

Deandre Ayton made history as one of the first NBA players to be signed by Puma as the German athletic giant angles to rebuild its men’s basketball shoe business. So why was the Phoenix Suns rookie wearing Nike sneakers at his preseason debut with the team on Monday night?

Eagle-eyed spectators noticed this year’s No. 1 overall draft pick on-court in a pair of Kobe AD kicks with Nike’s iconic swoosh logo not-so-discreetly covered up with white tape. While Ayton’s footwear choice left some fans confused, it seems it was done with Puma’s full blessing. Ayton — who towers at 7 feet 1 inch tall — wears a very large size 18 sneaker, and Puma is apparently still in the process of developing a custom shoe in his size that meets his desired specifications.

During the NBA Summer League this past July, the Bahamian-born baller explained in an interview that Puma doesn’t want him wearing his new shoes until they get them absolutely perfect. “I love Puma shoes, but I wear a size 18 so we’re working on putting a lot of technology into the shoe. They want me to perform the best way I can,” he said.

Ayton’s NBA career is off to an impressive start. Although the Sacramento Kings ultimately triumphed in the 106-102 match-up, Ayton posted 24 points, 10 rebounds and three blocked shots in 30 minutes of game action.

Although Ayton has been criticized in the past for getting lost on defense, Kings coach Dave Joerger had high praise for the elite prospect. “Ayton is going to be really good. He’s going to be a tough deal for the next 10 or 12 years,” Joerger said. That’s certainly good news for Puma as it kicks off its quest to sell a lot of basketball shoes.

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