When Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma signed a five-year, approximately $15 million deal with PUMA last year, it was seen as a coup for the streetwear brand as it continued to make inroads back into basketball. They had a Lakers player who was being billed as the potential third star — mostly by himself, but still — on a contender with LeBron James and Anthony Davis, and a player that was known as much for his sense of style as what he’d done on the court in the second-largest market in the NBA.
Kuzma obviously did not fully live up to preseason expectations for himself this year, but when looking back, it’s worth noting that a big part of why he left Nike for PUMA was not just the money (although that was surely a factor). He wanted more creative input on his footwear, too.
“The No. 1 thing I was trying to look for was a little bit more control, a little bit more freedom to do certain things. Not to be restricted from an idea standpoint,” Kuzma told Nick DePaula of ESPN then. “Having a brand fully commit to me and see that I have visions, too — that could work out well for the brand and me as well. Puma was that.”
That vision has now come to pass, as Kuzma has co-designed his first shoe for PUMA: The Clyde All-Pro Kuzma Mid.
Here’s a first look, courtesy of PUMA:
And if you take a look inside, you can see Kuzma’s signature logo, put in there just for the fans:
Here’s more details on the collaboration from PUMA’s press release:
What happens when two greats team up for one shoe? You get the Clyde All-Pro Kuzma Mid. Designed by PUMA Hoops athlete Kyle Kuzma and streetwear legend and founder of Rhude, Rhuigi Villaseñor, this shoe features vintage-inspired coloring paired with performance tooling. Designed in a mid-top silhouette made for the courts and approved for the streets, these kicks are topped off with Kuzma’s logo in the sock liner. The Clyde All-Pro Kuzma Mid retails for $150 and will be available starting November 27 on PUMA.com, at the PUMA NYC Store, at select retailers, and during Foot Locker’s “12 Days of Greatness.”
As we’ve come to expect from anything involving Kuzma, the shoes generated a polarizing response online:
Nah this looks disgusting— Average Capp (@GswMidwest) November 9, 2020
I personally like them, but I’ve generally always enjoyed Puma’s mid and high-top efforts.
But whatever one thinks of the design, this is some pretty obvious evidence of the power of the Lakers’ brand. What other bench player in the NBA is out here designing their own shoes for a major basketball brand and receiving star-like billing for it? Kuzma has done as good of a job (especially in his first two seasons) of capitalizing on the power of the Lakers’ platform, and the fact that these shoes even exist is further testament to that market share. This is not to say he’s not deserving — he put in work to create this moment — it’s just that this opportunity does not generally even exist for players of his stature in other markets.
All I’m saying is, love these shoes or hate them, this press release should be in the first several slides of any Lakers free agency presentation this offseason and moving forward. Headline: If Kyle Kuzma can get this, what can we do for you?