Dwyane Wade To Li Ning?
In July of 2009, Jordan Brand executed a major power move in the sneaker endorsement game by adding the explosive Dwyane Wade to its roster; Wade, who was free from his contractual obligations with Converse Basketball, was free to explore his options – and plenty of suitors were certainly lining up for his services. Already having an NBA Championship under his belt, being rooted in Chicago, and playing in a similar manner to Michael Jordan himself, Wade and Jordan Brand seemed like a match made in heaven. Jordan seemed to have found the perfect heir to the Jordan throne and the brand’s legacy gained a stable backbone that would stabilize the mission for the next several years.
After being issued the Air Jordan flagship model that season, Dwyane Wade was finally presented with his first official signature shoe called the Jordan Fly Wade in April of 2011, and later, in December, the sequel named the Jordan Fly Wade 2 (in addition to the EV model for the Playoffs) followed. The Wade models immediately surpassed the longer-running Jordan Melo and Jordan CP3 line in price, indirectly appointing the Fly Wade as the top-tier Jordan Brand performance basketball model. However, in spite of Wade’s championship pedigree, his elite status in the NBA, and his celebrity-like recognition in Miami (and having an actress as a girlfriend), the Jordan and Wade partnership never really took off into the stratosphere like they had anticipated; sales of the Jordan Fly Wade were mediocre and it never made as much as a dent in the ‘lifestyle’ constituency, where Air Jordans, LeBrons, Kobes, and KDs reign king.
With Dwyane Wade’s contract with Jordan Brand coming to an end this summer, Wade is now back to where he was in 2009 – but he may be looking elsewhere to cash in. On the flip-side, Jordan Brand needs to weigh its options as well; Wade is reportedly paid $10 million a year from Jordan Brand, a price that may not make any fiscal sense if the Jordan Fly Wade line of footwear and apparel doesn’t earn enough to make the investment worth their while. In addition, reports of a cancellation of the Jordan Fly Wade 3 model has also pointed to Dwyane Wade moving on from Jordan Brand, and rumors of a potential move to Chinese athletic apparel brand Li-Ning, which already employs a number of NBA players, has only made a potential Wade/Jordan split more of a reality. Thoughts on this potential swing? Would Li Ning’s efforts in the US be more recognized if it added Wade as its flagship endorser? Who would Jordan Brand potentially replace Dwyane Wade with? This is certainly an interesting development so let us know what your thoughts are and we’ll keep you posted as more unfolds.