Walt Frazier is a name that many people throughout the basketball world are familiar with. Frazier had an impressive NBA career where he was a seven-time All-Star and a two-time NBA champion. He spent most of his NBA career playing for the New York Knicks, and he spent his final three seasons playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
During his career, Frazier became the first NBA player with a signature shoe deal.
Walt Frazier won his first NBA title in his third season
After an impressive college career at Southern Illinois, the Knicks selected Frazier with the fifth overall pick in the 1967 NBA draft. In his first NBA season, he averaged nine points, 4.2 rebounds, and 4.1 assists. He was named to the All-Rookie First Team. Frazier saw significant improvements in his second NBA season. He saw his points average jump to 17.5, and he also finished the season with 7.9 assists and 6.2 rebounds.
Frazier was an all-around productive player. He could get the job done on both sides of the court. In year three, Frazier established himself as one of the top players in the league. Frazier had a big performance against the Houston Rockets during the season as he finished with 43 points with nine rebounds, and five assists. He was named to his first All-Star team, and the Knicks were one of the top teams in the league.
The Knicks advanced to the 1970 NBA finals and took on the LA Lakers. In Game 7, Frazier had one of the best performances in NBA finals’ history. He led the Knicks to victory as he finished with 36 points, 19 assists, seven rebounds, and six assists. That was Frazier’s first NBA title, and he put together a memorable performance throughout the series.
Walt Frazier continued to dominate throughout his career
After winning the NBA title in 1970, Frazier continued to take his game to the next level and dominate on the court. In 1972, the Knicks returned to the NBA finals and lost to the Lakers. The 1973 NBA Finals was a rematch between the Knicks and Lakers, and Frazier and the Knicks got the best of the Lakers. That was the last time Frazier won an NBA title.
After spending his first 10 seasons with the Knicks, Frazier was traded to the Cavaliers after the 1976-77 season. Frazier played three seasons in Cleveland before retiring in 1980. He was an all-time great for the Knicks, and his No. 10 jersey was retired in December of 1979. For his career, Frazier averaged 18.9 points, 6.1 assists, and 5.9 rebounds.
Puma made Walt Frazier the first NBA player with a shoe endorsement
According to an article from medium.com, Frazier was the first player with a signature shoe deal in 1973. Puma was the company that wanted Frazier to wear their apparel and shoes. So how did Frazier and Puma become a thing? Frazier had an interview with One37PM, and he explained how he joined Puma. “It was a friend of mine,” Frazier said. “He just approached me and said Puma would be interested in using me like a spokesman. They’d pay me some money and they’d give me [shoes].”
Just like that, Frazier was a part of Puma. Originally, Frazier was not a fan of playing in Pumas, so Puma decided to ask Frazier what kind of shoe he would wear during games. When Frazier explained to Puma the type of shoe he would wear, they immediately went to work on creating a shoe that was right for the star player. The Puma Clyde’s were created and were a hot commodity in New York.
“You had to sacrifice like it was something special,” Frazier told One37PM about his shoes. “If you got a pair of Clydes, you were taking the money out of your savings to get those shoes.” Now you see many players with their own signature shoes, but Frazier was the pioneer behind it. In 2018, he signed a lifetime contract with Puma. Frazier opened the door for many players inking shoe deals.