Walter “Clyde” Frazier didn’t imagine that when his namesake Puma shoe launched more than 40 years ago, the Clyde sneaker would still make the cultural impact that it does today.
“My prayers have been answered that I’m still relevant, and I haven’t played basketball in 35 years. I’m still popular with the Knicks and now this shoe,” he said to FN when Puma released a special edition Clyde Wraither Pack in 2016.
Two years later, the athletic giant continues to celebrate Frazier with the deal of a lifetime — literally.
Today at the Puma Hoops HQ in Brooklyn, the brand honored the New York Knicks legend with a lifetime contract which subsequently marks its re-entry into the basketball category. Frazier was in attendance for the surprise announcement, which also included a photo op session with the former NBA star and the chance to buy a pair of limited edition Puma Clyde’s on-site. Puma, being on trend with the “graf-feet-i” movement, also offered attendees the chance to have their kicks uniquely monogrammed by a sneaker customizer.
“He led his team to the championship that year in impressive style both on and off the court. He represented the elite in on-court play,” said Adam Petrick, Global Director of Brand and Marketing, as he recapped the shoe’s inception in 1973 along with tidbits of Frazier’s legacy.
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“It’s been 45 years since the beginning of this relationship,” Petrick continued before Frazier chimed in “what took you so long?”
“I guess it’s overdue,” added Petrick as the day’s honoree made his way to the stage and officially inked his deal. After pen was put to paper, Frazier discussed designing the shoe and its memorable moments in history.
“I came up with a lighter shoe, a little more padding on the inside and that was the beginning of the Puma Clyde and the shoe has been timeless. During my career I endorsed Puma and then there was a lull in the action. Then, the breakdancers brought it back. After that fling, the retro craze brought it back. Here we are 40-some years later — I’m still synonymous with Puma Clyde and passing the tradition on to younger guys,” said Frazier as he shared his gratitude for the distinction.
The 73-year-old is in fact passing the momentum down to a younger generation. In addition to announcing Frazier’s deal, Puma also released the news that they’ve signed Deandre Ayton, the projected No. 1 NBA draft pick, to its roster.
Ayton, a former University of Arizona forward made a surprise appearance at the event where he took place in a Q&A with Petrick and Frazier. The 19-year old revealed that his favorite player is “KG” (Kevin Garnett) and touched on his Caribbean roots.
“Yesterday, I was just a kid in the Bahamas with no worries in the world, so to represent a brand like this is a great opportunity and I thank you guys,” he said.
While Frazier is prepared to support the next generation, offering Ayton words of advice including “have a tenacious work ethic” and “don’t gain the world and lose your soul,” the basketball veteran still acknowledges that he is a pioneer.
“Now I sit back when I see Jordan, LeBron, Kobe all these [players] with their shoes — I can just smile knowing I’m the guy who started it,” he said.
Separately, Puma also officially confirmed Jay-Z’s involvement with the brand today, stating that he has signed as President of Basketball Operations. Read more on this story here in FN’s interview with Petrick.
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