- Puma signed a slew of talented NBA rookies to compete with the likes of Nike, Adidas, and Under Armour.
- Despite being one of the signees, top overall pick Deandre Ayton was seen wearing Nike during Summer League.
- Ayton said that Puma was still working to make shoes that could manage his size 18 feet.
Puma made its intentions clear ahead of the 2018 NBA draft, signing soon-to-be stars like Deandre Ayton, Marvin Bagley III, and Zhaire Smith to show that the brand was ready to get back into the basketball shoe game and compete with the likes of Nike, Adidas, and Under Armour.
But as the rookies made their NBA Summer League debuts, first overall pick Ayton has been seen on the court wearing Nike’s despite the deal. While some fans were confused at first, Ayton’s lack of Pumas isn’t due to a contract dispute, but rather a simple logistical issue — Puma is yet to make shoes that can adequately handle his size 18 feet.
According to Bleacher Report’s Master Tesfatsion, Ayton said that Puma is still working to get his kicks right for the court.
“I wear size 18,” Ayton said. “What we’re trying to do is make the best shoe possible. They want me to perform well. That’s why I’m wearing [Nike] right now.”
While the notion might seem absurd — what was Puma thinking signing an athlete it couldn’t outfit? — if Puma’s footwear isn’t there yet for Ayton, it’s a far better play to keep him comfortable than risk his ankles on a work in progress.
Still, it’s certainly not a great turn of events for a brand that’s trying to get back in the game as Ayton is getting double-doubles in Summer League as the top overall pick in the draft, and doing it all in a competitor’s shoe. Hopefully, Puma will have worked out its kinks by the time the regular season rolls around.