American rapper, Jay-Z, has been appointed as the creative director of Puma’s basketball operations following the return of National Basketball Association (NBA) draft with the German sports manufacturer to the basketball market after a 20-year absence.
A Puma spokesman originally described Jay-Z, whose birth name was Shawn Carter, as president of Puma basketball, but this has since been clarified.
The 48-year-old songwriter is expected to lead creative projects and marketing efforts in relation to the company’s revived basketball interests. He will also have a role in assisting with talent-spotting of NBA players to join the brand.
Ahead of Thursday’s draft, Puma has already signed a trio of young players, all of whom are expected to be selected as first-round picks in the draft. Deandre Ayton, Marvin Bagley III and Zhaire Smith have all agreed to multiyear footwear and clothing endorsement deals with Puma.
Prior to the agreement with Bagley, Puma’s last basketball deal came with Vince Carter in 1998.
Walt Frazier, the 73-year-old former NBA legend, has also been signed to a lifetime contract with Puma.
Adam Petrick, global director of brand and marketing at Puma, said: “We’re making a serious statement about the entry of the category, that we want to be a performance brand, but then also very culturally focused.
“It’s clear that we’re looking at basketball through the lens of culture, and thinking about the fashion of basketball, the music of basketball — all the aspects of culture around basketball, all the aspects of culture around basketball as much as the on-court presence that we will have,” Petrick added.
The news comes after Belgium and Manchester United soccer player Romelu Lukaku signed a long-term sponsorship deal with the German sportswear giant.