While the NBA stage has become a new runway for flexing fits and footwear of the latest pedigree, it would be a crime to forget New York Knicks legend Walt “Clyde” Frazier. Nowadays, we’re used to seeing players trying to get crazy with their looks, but nobody could rock a wide-brim hat right after calmly icing a game-saving shot quite like Clyde did — all in the same sneakers, of course.
In the latest episode of our podcast with PUMA, “Represent Yourself,” we sat down with the two-time NBA champion to talk about his colorful suit collection, supreme confidence, and how his life experiences have helped create his famous persona. Now, the NBA broadcaster stunts a wardrobe stocked with more prints and patterns than you can shake a Suede at, but to understand Clyde today, you have to learn about young Walt, when he first moved to New York: “I liked the way the guys were dressing. I liked what was going on. Once I became more popular as a basketball player, when I used to go out, I always dressed up. Once I got the hat, the mink coats, it just started happening. I love New York — the style. You can be innovative, creative, and that’s why I love it still.”
Considering his affection for both sport and style, it’s no wonder the basketball great was the first NBA player to get his name on a sneaker. The endorsement deal with PUMA that led to the creation of his namesake sneaker in the early ’70s would leave a lasting cultural impact on both the sneaker and sporting worlds.
“When I first came to PUMA, they had the PUMA Basket. It was leather — heavy, clunky. I told them even if they paid me I wouldn’t wear the shoe, man [laughs]… That was PUMA’s idea! The Suede was very innovative; nobody had suede shoes. I liked it right away… It was different. It was Clyde.”
It’s one thing to look the part, but the key to Frazier’s character is his composure. Whether it be wearing a stellar three-piece leopard print suit, or with the ball in his hands and the game on the line, Clyde’s cool is ultimately what makes him a success.
Ultimately, Frazier credits his smiling confidence to the family and friends that helped him grow up along the way — and he makes sure to be reminded of that to this day, as both a basketball and a style icon: “I carried myself with pride. I never embarrassed my race… Even to this day, they can’t say anything negative about Clyde, or what I did off the court to embarrass them. I attribute that to my parents; I was really raised by a village — parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, peers, coaches — everyone played a role in developing my character, my pride, my tenacity. I am standing on the shoulders of those people today, as a very successful person.”
You can listen to the full conversation with Walter “Clyde” Frazier whilst scrolling through our 1970s inspired PUMA Suede lookbook above. Be sure to check out the rest of the series on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast app.