Jay-Z Is Named President of Puma’s Basketball Operations

FN has reported on Puma’s re-entry into basketball, and the brand today announced it had signed Walt “Clyde” Frazier (to a lifetime deal) and No. 1 projected NBA draft pick Deandre Ayton. In addition, the sportswear retailer officially confirmed Jay-Z’s involvement with the company, as the artist has been named president of basketball operations.

FN exclusively caught up with Puma’s Adam Petrick, global director of brand and marketing, post-event for more details on the partnership.

Adam Petrick, fnaa 2017, footwear news achievement awards
Adam Petrick
CREDIT: Rex Shutterstock

How will signing Jay-Z, a music mogul, as head of basketball be distinguished from pop culture when the brand is in a big push to highlight its basketball business?

“We believe the basketball business is based on the basketball culture and not just the basketball court. Our take on entering the category is, we can be successful if we are focused on telling stories and building product around that 360 culture. Not just on court but the fashion of basketball, the music of basketball, all the other stories around the music of the court.”

Many speculated that Jay-Z’s involvement with the brand would result in an endorsed shoe. Is this a possibility?

“You never know what will happen in the future, but right now, he is focused on driving our business. His partnership is not an endorsement; he’s not the face of the brand. He’s involved in the day-to-day operations and the decisions behind the story we create, the product we make. I don’t see [a shoe] in the cards right now, but who knows about the future?”

How far does Jay-Z’s involvement extend?

“He’s been working with us for quite some time, and he’s been involved in the decisions we made around players and product creation. I can say we will be testing our first sneaker on Wednesday of this week, and he was heavily involved in the creation of that product. He’s been very involved in the day-to-day.”

How is Puma juggling the many deals — signing a lifetime deal with Frazier along with three other incoming rookie players —and simultaneously focusing on regaining its place in basketball?

“We’ve got a solid team who understands how to have a great relationship with players. We always focus thinking about our players as members of our family, so we are obsessed with making sure that our members of our family are all taken care of. They get to work with us in the way they see fit, and we give them a lot of freedom and [listen to] their goals and objectives, and focus on that. We have a great team to take on this capacity, and there is going to be more. This is not the end of the list; we are working to sign an NBA player contract. We already have signed Rudy Gay — he’s been working with us on trialing the product and the general marketing strategy. In addition, Skylar Diggins has been an athlete of ours for almost a year. Like I said, we try to make sure all our athletes are part of our family.”

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