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Kyle Kuzma says it was ‘tough’ to leave Nike because he won’t get to wear Kobes anymore, but he wants to reach that level in shoe business

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Kyle Kuzma is going to miss wearing Kobes now that he’s with Puma.

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Golden State Warriors v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Last week, Kyle Kuzma finalized an endorsement deal with Puma that will reportedly pay him roughly $3 million annually, which is over a million more than he’ll make from his rookie contract with the Los Angeles Lakers this season. Not bad for the No. 27 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft.

However, Kuzma’s new deal came at the expense of his beloved Kobe Bryant sneakers, something he admitted to Nick De Paula of ESPN was hard for him initially, but a choice he also understood was a necessary step in order to reach the heights Bryant did in the shoe business:

In moving on from Nike, the Lakers forward will look to establish himself as a face of the brand, while giving up wearing his idol Kobe Bryant’s longtime Swoosh signature sneakers.

”It was tough from the simple fact of how much I love Kobe. Everyone knows that I wear Kobe’s shoes,” he said. “It was tough, but at the end of the day, I have dreams and goals, and I imagine myself being at that type of level in this business.”

Kuzma obviously doesn’t have the accolades Bryant did at 24 years old — which included three NBA championships, four All-Star appearances and four All-Defensive teams — but he does have the benefit of playing in the second-largest market in the NBA. He also has a large following because of his productive first two seasons with the Lakers.

Will Kuzma’s signature shoe — assuming he gets one — be as popular as any one of the Kobe models? Maybe not, but signing with Puma gave him the best opportunity to do that. Don’t be surprised to see the Kuz 1s sooner rather than later.

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