The Puma Rise Nitro basketball shoe includes the brand’s pinnacle on-court technology.
From LaMelo Ball to Breanna Stewart, Puma has a growing roster of signature performance basketball lines for a brand that reentered the sport in 2018. Puma doesn’t stop there, with its pinnacle performance range of Nitro-technology led sneakers adding to a mix of on-court offerings. But just how do those lines differ and what are the technologies that define them?
Max Staiger, Puma’s global head of basketball, says the brand breaks down the basketball category in three distinct silos: signature lines, pinnacle performance and culture, which can blur the line between lifestyle and court. But the one thread that connects the signature sneakers from Ball and Stewart to the Nitro performance silhouette is more than just the Nitro name, it is the cushioning technology it represents.
Nitro foam lives across a range of sports at Puma, but it defines basketball. “In my opinion, from a step-in comfort perspective, when you initially put on that shoe the kind of comfort level we provide is at a level that is probably the best,” Staiger says. “And I think the other thing we see with the Nitro is the longevity of that initial feeling. The way we built Nitro, you get that for a much longer extent, the value continues a lot further than some of our competitors.”
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Puma basketball is consistently tweaking the Nitro for each model, including the signatures. The newest in the Nitro line is the 2022-23 season Rise Nitro, released in July, which places the foam throughout the midsole. Staiger says that the cushioning was tuned for energy return both for impact and lateral quickness. The Nitro cushioning also plays a prominent role in the 2021-22 season Fusion Nitro.
For the signature models, the Nitro started in Ball’s MB.01 just in the heel, but the new MB.02, released in October, expands the Nitro use to both the forefoot and the heel. Stewart’s Stewie 1, launched in September, also includes Nitro foam.
Staiger says using the Nitro differently across the multiple lines is about volume—including the thickness of the foam for energy return—and placement. “You have to understand where you are placing it,” he says. “If it is too far in …….