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Scoot Henderson is Living Out His Signature Dream with Puma

The Portland rookie enters the rare tier of having a signature shoe during his debut season. Henderson talks with Boardroom about the Scoot Zeros, his family, what’s next with Puma, and more.

When he became the youngest player ever to sign on with G League Ignite at just 17 years old, Scoot Henderson knew he was embarking on an uncharted path before even reaching his goal of making it to the NBA.  

During his second season in the Association’s developmental league, Henderson faced off in October 2022 against highly touted future top pick Victor Wembanyama during a showcase game in Las Vegas. The two brought it in the opener, to say the least, with Scoot’s highlight dunking drives and poised playmaking taking his star power to another level.

Already signed to a long-term shoe deal with Puma at the time, the brand decided to switch up their Fall 2023 footwear plans right on the spot. The executives already knew the Marietta, Ga.-bred point guard had a superstar’s persona and presence. But after that game, where he put up 28 points, nine assists, and five rebounds in leading the G League Ignite to victory, they had seen enough. 

Puma wanted to launch a Scoot Henderson signature shoe, officially dubbing them the Scoot Zeros.

“I knew right away, honestly,” Henderson now says of the historical significance. “When they told me, I said, ‘There’s not many players that have shoes, coming into the league.’

And he’s right. 

When the Trail Blazers’ No. 3 pick took the floor for his very first NBA game in October, he became just the seventh player in league history to rock their own signature shoe in their rookie debut game. 

Scoot Henderson Puma
(Brian Rothmuller / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

“At first, I didn’t think about it,” reflects Henderson. “Then, when I was lacing them up, I was like, ‘Damn, these are mine. I’m out here with my own shoe.’ … It was just amazing to know that I was one of seven and part of a very specific group of athletes in the NBA that came out there with their signature shoe.”

How Henderson got to this point is surely a testament to his potential. Boasting a tank of a frame with an explosiveness that’s drawn comparisons to the early days of Russell Westbrook and Derrick Rose, what equally excites Puma is Scoot’s expressiveness, approachability, and personality that lends itself to marketable storytelling. 

His first shoe launches on Dec. 15 and will be priced at an accessible $100 at retail.

“Together with Scoot, we’ve built the Scoot Zeros to expand the narrative around signature footwear to stand for both the achievements and the journey itself,” said Max Staiger, Global Head of Basketball at Puma. “By picking up a pair of the Zeros, you join Scoot in his journey to further establish himself as one of the next generation’s basketball superstars.”

Not long after that showcase game in Las Vegas, a then-18-year-old Scoot was set to connect with the Puma team to discuss the future ahead. His family and six siblings that make up “The Henderson Seven” by his side, Scoot couldn’t help but relive all the moments that got him to this point. He was still taken aback when the brand first told him it wanted to create him a signature shoe in Year 1.

“It was a surprise, actually. When they told me, I was like, “……Oh, shoot!” he now laughs. “I thanked Puma as much as I could. I thanked my family for being along for the ride. And I thanked them for having my family with me the whole time.”

Scoot Henderson Puma
Scoot Henderson in the Puma Scoot Zeros. (Alika Jenner / Getty Images)

Starting From Zero 

What makes Henderson’s path to the league and his early signature shoe launch not only unique, but even possible, is the timeline. Because he technically turned pro while forgoing his senior year of high school, Henderson was eligible to sign a multi-year shoe deal earlier than other players in his draft class. 

Early on in high school, he took note right away of Puma’s 2018 re-emergence in hoops.

“I saw that the momentum of basketball and culture was mixing, and Puma was on top of their game with that,” he said. 

During his first season with the Ignite, Puma invited the Henderson Family to Cleveland, where the NBA hosted its annual All-Star Weekend in early 2022. The brand had one of the best activation spaces on the ground — The Puma Lounge — a swanky, mid-century modern vibe that saw an ongoing flow of NBA greats, current athlete partners, and tastemakers swing by. 

Scoot Henderson Puma

The lounge left an impression on the family. It was also the setting for the start of their potential shoe deal talks, where Scoot and his family clearly left an impression on the brand, too.

“I got to experience Puma at the highest level,” said Henderson. “They welcomed my family and me as one, and that’s really what caught my eye. Nobody else was doing that at the time. Nobody else was paying attention to what I was looking for. I wanted a good vibe and a family-oriented space that I could just succeed in and where we could boost each other.”

A few months later, Henderson made it official and signed on with Puma in June 2022. With LaMelo Ball already the brand’s headliner, the company looked at Henderson as a fellow future face, as the company looks to represent more youthfulness in the sport moving forward.

Scoot Henderson Puma
(Image courtesy of Puma)

A Daring Debut Design 

Players dream of one day having a signature shoe. Scoot remembers not long ago creating his own digital shoes on NBA 2K. Ahead of his 19th birthday, he had a distinct idea for what he wanted in his debut design. 

“The first thing was I wanted the shoe to be really fast and to look aggressive,” he outlined. “I wanted it to be very fashionable too, and I wanted the colorways to really pop and have its own personality. I wanted it to resemble me as a player and who I am as a person.”

Much like his end-to-end speed in transition, the shoe also looks like it’s in motion. The midsole materials and rubber insets warp and appear dragged up, with jagged lines throughout, speaking to the speed that Henderson wanted in the visual. Even the Puma logo is accented by jagged lines, for a departure from corporate branding norms. 

(Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

The shoe name itself — Scoot Zeros — was a key strategic call, alluding to the long runway ahead for Henderson and the unique timeline that his career has represented to date.

“To me, Zeros symbolizes new beginnings and reminds me that each day we have the opportunity to reset, learn, create, embrace, and overcome,” Scoot added. 

It would be a year after that first Cleveland meeting where the signature process for the Scoot Zeros really got in full swing, as the Hendersons met with Puma again at their 2023 All-Star Weekend activation space, the Puma Mountain Lair Lounge in Salt Lake City.

Colorways were conceived. Roll-out plans discussed. Themes, collaborations, and storytelling for future pairs mapped out well into 2024. 

“Puma came back to me with a great design,” said a smiling Henderson. “And I loved it — how the shoe is fast, aggressive, and has sharp edges around the shoe and the formstrip logo.”

Scoot Henderson Puma
(Image courtesy of Puma)

Once the base design was locked in, the next steps for Henderson and the team included creating his signature logo, along with crafting the colorways that would grace the quick-moving canvas.

“My logo is also aggressive,” Henderson described. “The ’S’ in general has a sharp edge, and you can also see the ‘H’ in there as well. I had a whole bunch of different options, and that was the best one, with how much we wanted the shoe to be perfect.”

In looking to have the shoe’s colorways “pop,” one of the first pairs that Henderson immediately requested was a Georgia peach-inspired edition. He wanted it to be the launch look. 

Scoot Henderson Puma
(Dylan Buell / Getty Images)

“I wanted to pay a lot of homage to where I’m from. I never want to go away from that,” said Henderson. “Georgia plays a huge role in today’s NBA and today’s world, as well.

The colorway features more depth and detail than a typical peach-shaded sneaker, with a darker salmon base, light pink outsole, and green accents throughout, representing a peach tree’s leaves.

“I think it’s going to be a lot of love and respect from all over in Georgia,” added Henderson. “The Peach colorway is a beautiful color, and I think a lot of people are going to wear it, love the color and love the aggressiveness and edginess on the shoe.”

In addition to the leading Peach edition, Henderson has already laced up a bright red Scoot Zero. The shoes have become a staple of his new over-accessorizing look in recent weeks. 

“It’s a coincidence that I’m now playing for the Trail Blazers. I look good in every color, but red is my favorite,” he joked. “With the tights and the leg sleeves, the goggles and everything, it’s just a new look for me.”

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Building With Puma Ahead 

Just weeks into his career, Henderson knows he’s got a long way to go in continuing to establish himself as the rebuilding Portland’s next franchise point guard. It’s a journey that Puma is hoping fans of both Scoot’s and the new wave of unique basketball paths will follow along. 

While other brands have found success by linking with the game’s legends well into their careers, Puma’s roster is refreshingly young and on a similar timeline toward finding their footing since its 2018 re-launch into hoops. 

“Our mission has always remained unchanged — to be the next-generation basketball brand,” Staiger framed. 

As Henderson sees it, the foundation of their relationship began with a family-first emphasis in every meeting that has since shifted into a full-scale, signature shoe deal. His charging mantra, “Overly Determined To Dominate,” can be seen throughout the signature Scoot apparel and marketing materials.

There’s a trust and partnership within that, with Puma committed to telling Scoot’s story for the long haul as his career continues to unfold as one of the company’s featured athletes. 

(Image courtesy of Puma)

“We all have a relationship with Puma that I know a lot of players want,” Henderson said. “Players from any sport, whether that’s basketball or football, or any artists and celebrities as well. That just shows how great Puma is with all of their partners and clients.”

With the launch of his debut Scoot Zeros model just a week away, it’s all starting to feel that much more real for the rookie. There’s the emotion of entering historic industry territory, the pride of putting on for the Henderson name, and the realization that one dream down just means there’s more to get after and accomplish ahead. 

“When they told me I was going to be a signature athlete, I almost made my mom cry ’cause I almost started tearing up,” Henderson recalls.

“That’s something you dream of as a kid.”

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About The Author
Nick DePaula
Nick DePaula
Nick DePaula covers the footwear industry and endorsement deals surrounding the sporting landscape, with an emphasis on athlete and executive interviews. The Sacramento, California, native has been based in Portland, Oregon, for the last decade, a main hub of sneaker company headquarters. He’ll often argue that How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days is actually an underrated movie, largely because it’s the only time his Sacramento Kings have made the NBA Finals.