Puma Plots NFT Sneaker Drop With NBA’s LaMelo Ball, Gutter Cat Gang

Puma Plots NFT Sneaker Drop With NBA’s LaMelo Ball, Gutter Cat Gang

Global sportswear company Puma continues its foray into Web3 with a sneaker-based collaboration with NBA star LaMelo Ball and NFT project Gutter Cat Gang.

Titled the “GutterMelo MB.03,” the limited edition kicks will initially retail for $175 via the OpenSea marketplace as an NFT collectible on June 29th. The NFT can later be redeemed for the physical sneakers during a month-long window from July 18th through August 20th. A Puma representative told Decrypt that the total number of NFTs has not yet been announced.

Ball, a young NBA star who was drafted third overall in the 2020 draft and is a point guard for the Charlotte Hornets, signed a multi-year endorsement deal with Puma in 2020 for a reported $100 million. The MB.03 sneaker marks the third iteration of his sneaker line with Puma, with more editions expected to release later in the year.

Guys Gang Cat is a NFT Profile Picture (PFP) project launched in June 2021 with 3,000 cat-themed avatars. The Puma sneaker is customized with a colorful effect that looks like a heat map, along with a Gutter Cat Gang image and “1-of-1” inscription on the tongue plus the names of the collaborators on the heel.

NFT based drops

In the 2022-23 season, Ball made history as the second-youngest player in the NBA to amass 1,000 points, assists and rebounds—only behind LeBron James, the four-time NBA champion who currently leads the Los Angeles Lakers.

Ball entered the NFT area in June 2021 with launch by Ethereum-based LaMelo Collectibles – floating figure models of themselves in space with on-chain ownership benefits included – and followed up with a second collection in February 2022.

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James, a back-to-back all-star through all 19 years of his NBA career to date, has also ventured into the NFT scene. He was spotted wearing exclusive RTFKT sneakers in May, and also got his own CloneX avatar from the same company. Nike acquired digital sneaker startup RTFKT in December 2021.

The concept of redeeming digital NFTs for physical goods was popularized by RTFKT. CloneX avatar holders have also had the ability to “forge” physical items that represent the clothing attributes of their asset.

Nike remains the dominant brand in the basketball shoe market, leading in popularity with around 67% of NBA players wearing the shoes during the 2023 season – a number that rises to nearly 75% when Nike’s Jordan Brand is also included.

According to the same data, Puma came in fourth behind Adidas and the Jordan brand with nearly 3% of NBA player share – but the brand could gain cultural prominence in the sport following the endorsement signings of both Ball and the Phoenix Sun’s Deandre Ayton .

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