NBA star Carter on the outs with Puma

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For rising NBA star Vince Carter, it is a simple case of "show me the money." And Puma North America apparently isn't showing enough.

Last week, according to a statement from his agent, PMI ProSports Marketing, Mr. Carter "no longer endorses Puma products, and Puma is not authorized to use his name."

Puma reportedly didn't make good on its promise to introduce a new shoe line for the athlete, who plays for the Toronto Raptors, or spend at a certain level of advertising around Mr. Carter.

NO AD AGREEMENT: PUMA

Puma does have a Vince Carter shoe currently on the market, the Cell VI, and said it will release another, the Vinsanity, near the time of next year's NBA All-Star game.

A Puma spokeswoman also said the company did not make a specific advertising agreement with Mr. Carter for his shoe line.

In a statement, Puma said it is expecting that Mr. Carter will honor his 10-year agreement, which began last year.

Puma's and Mr. Carter's problems could stem from the dreary athletic shoe market, which has seen sales slip over the last two years.

"The entire athletic shoe industry has been down," said Bob Williams, president of sports marketing company Burn Sports. "The first thing to do in a contracting market is to drop your advertising budget."

For some years now, all athletic shoe makers have been cutting back on endorsements. Last year, Nike trimmed $100 million from its annual budget of $500 million for endorsements. Reebok International Ltd. earlier dropped a $5 million annual deal with the Los Angeles Lakers' Shaquille O'Neal.

Currently, Puma is in the midst of a major advertising campaign themed "The relentless pursuit of fun," featuring a number of athletes.

In addition to Mr. Carter, Puma's endorser roster includes U.S. Open Tennis champion Serena Williams, New Orleans Saints running back Ricky Williams and boxer Oscar de la Hoya.

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