October 1, 2012 BY John Kim
Roughly one month ago a report of a potential split between Jordan Brand and its purported top-level athlete/representative Dwyane Wade created some interesting discussion among our readers. Wade is indeed one of the star athletes of the entire NBA and certainly one of the few multi-Championship All-Stars that are still active in the game, but in Wade’s case, his star status both on and off the court didn’t translate into major sales numbers or anything remotely close to the standards of the Air Jordan legacy. Even in Sneaker News’ recent Jordan Brand Holiday 2012/Spring 2013 preview, anything remotely ‘Wade’ wasn’t in sight, which pretty much said what needed to be said without words. In any case, Wade’s contract with the brand that started in 2009 has seen its inevitable end, and it is now confirmed by current Li-Ning brand endorsee Evan Turner of the Philadelphia Sixers that Dwyane Wade has indeed joined Chinese athletic brand Li-Ning.
While no break-up is ever worth a celebration, this business decision looks to benefit both sides; the Fly Wade series experienced mediocre-at-best sales and perhaps didn’t justify his annual salary (one that would’ve needed to be raised or been in at the same rate in order to keep him), but the flipside may reveal that Wade is likely getting a generous endorsement contract as well as major marketing potential in China, where NBA stars are as heavily praised as they are in the States. It’s a move that gives Wade what he’s looking for (more international fame and relevance and more dollars) while allowing Jordan Brand a ‘fresh start’ of sorts with either a new line of performance basketball footwear or maybe even another signature athlete down the line. Your thoughts on Wade’s decision to jump to Li-Ning? Any suggestions as to who can step up and be Jordan Brand’s third guy?