Ball is the first Puma athlete to have a signature shoe with the brand since its hoops relaunch in 2018. The MB.01 dropped Thursday.
Puma’s new era of basketball athletes begins with the release of LaMelo Ball’s MB.01. The sneaker, designed by Ball himself and Puma designer Jacob Garcia, marks Puma’s first signature shoe since the basketball category relaunched in 2018.
The MB.01 released Thursday in a bright red color at the PUMA NYC Flagship store and on Puma.com, Foot Locker, Foot Locker Canada, Kids Foot Locker, Champs Sports, Eastbay and Footaction.
Last week, Boardroom traveled to Puma’s wear test event where Puma and its ambassadors gave media outlets the opportunity to try LaMelo’s inaugural shoe. Former NBAer turned ESPN host Jalen Rose and LaMelo’s manager and trainer Jermaine Jackson Sr. hosted the event.
“The inside of these shoes feel like some fur-lined slippers,” Jackson Sr. said in an interview at the event. “They feel good, the most impressive thing to me [is] I was there from day one when he created the shoes from scratch and built it up all on his own. He sat there and designed the shoe all on his own.”
Rose added, “He’s already one of the most exciting players in the game. I love the color and how they feel. I found myself rocking them with some of everything.”
Since rebirthing its basketball operations in 2018, Puma has made a number of moves outside of LaMelo. The brand also signed Breanna Stewart, whose signature shoe will release sometime next year. Stewart will be the 10th player in the WNBA’s 25 year history to have a signature shoe. Mikey Williams, the No. 7 ranked prospect in ESPN’s class of 2023 high school basketball rankings, also inked a deal. Though no signature shoe has been announced, Williams is still excited about the opportunity.
“Puma is a huge global brand, and by joining the Puma Team, I feel it will help me generate new fans in different parts of the world and allow me to explore my creativity by being able to have input on product development,” he said in a statement.
Still, the real hype began when Puma signed Ball. Even Williams has said his interest piqued when the brand announced its partnership with Ball before the 2020 NBA Draft. Adam Petrick, Puma’s global director of brand and marketing wants to make sure Puma doesn’t get lost in the sea of other massive sneaker and apparel endorsers.
“We want to be a clever disruptor and we want to try to shake things up with our presence,” he said.
And the way Puma has gone about its business has an allure to Rose.
“I’ve always appreciated the fact that they made a conscious effort to spend time and appreciate the culture and give back to it,” he said.
Puma said the “Red Blast” colorway is the first of many that will be released in the months to come.